Vol. 2 No. 1 (2022): Despite the Pandemic

Comparing the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative to Western Development Finance

Published 2022-06-06


The aim of this paper is to bring some nuance to the discourse surrounding the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. The central question is, “Does China provide a better alternative to aid-based development finance?” To answer this question, one must be aware of the contemporary aid effectiveness debate, know the history of development finance, and understand the impacts of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. Foreign aid from the West mainly consists of grants and concessional loans for improving humanitarian conditions. The Belt and Road Initiative takes a business approach by lending to countries to improve infrastructure, mainly for increased trade. By summarizing the aid effectiveness debate and comparing the history of Western aid to the Belt and Road Initiative, I highlight the similarities and differences between Chinese and Western development finance.