chapter  8
32 Pages

Debunking the myth of China’s soft power: changes in China’s use of foreign assistance from 1949 to the present MeRRIdeN vARRALL

However, how these structural constraints are viewed, interpreted and dealt with by government actors depends on their national identity.24 As a final clarification of terminology, this chapter uses the term “assistance” to refer to China’s preferred modality of providing bundled packages of trade, aid, and investment, and “aid” to describe the Western notion of overseas development assistance (ODA).25 The philosophy behind China’s mixed-method approach is said to be derived from Zhou Enlai’s Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence26 and Eight Principles of Economic and Technical Aid,27 as well as Deng Xiaoping’s 28-Character Strategy.28 All three guidelines pay homage to ideas of mutual benefit, generally of a commercial nature, and reify notions of sovereignty and non-interference in political affairs. China has until recently appeared reluctant to use the term “aid” to characterise its overseas development assistance, at least in English,29 so this chapter uses the term to refer to the notion of ODA more familiar to members of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). That is, with the key objective of “the promotion of the economic development and welfare of developing countries,” and in which “lending by export credit agencies – with the pure purpose of export promotion – is excluded.”30