How the African Public Views China’s Aid to Africa

China Economist - - Articles - Han Donglin ( ) and Huang Zhen’er ( ) School of International Studies, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China * Corresponding author: Han Donglin, School of International Studies, Renmin University of China, Zhongguancun, Haidian District, Beijing, C


As a vital part of China’s foreign relations, China’s aid to Africa has scored great achievements. Based on data from the Afrobarometer Survey in 2010 and data from the database of China’s aid to Africa in 2000-2010 co-created by the US Center for Global Development and AidData, this paper dissects the macro- and micro-level determinants of the African public’s perception of the effectiveness of aid from China through an empirical analysis. As descriptive statistics reveal, the African public has a highly positive view of aid from China despite country differences. According to our further analysis of a multilevel model, aid recipients with higher levels of democracy and economic development have a more favorable view of aid from China, while the size and sector of aid from China are not correlated with public favorability. At the micro-level, age, gender, education, race and media consumption are positively correlated with the public perception of aid. In conclusion, China must refocus its future aid programs on livelihood and welfare that directly benefit local people, rather than simply increasing the amount of aid. In delivering its commitments to Africa, China must also attach importance to public communication and “telling the China story” in its international affairs to improve its national image and gain more recognition by the African people.



China’s aid to Africa, public perception, effectiveness of foreign aid, Africa JEL Classification Code: C300, F350, O190, O55

1. Introduction


Since its founding in 1949, the People’s Republic of China has offered extensive aid to African countries without strings attached. After the dawn of the 21st century, China’s aid to Africa reached record highs with its economic emergence and growing bilateral relations. According to data from China’s White Paper on Foreign Aid (2014), from 2010 to 2012, China appropriated a total of 89.34 billion yuan (14.41 billion US dollars) for foreign assistance, 51.8% of which went to Africa. In delivering aid programs, China actively supported African countries in the fields of infrastructure, trade, socio-economic development, poverty relief and welfare.

China’s increasing aid to Africa aroused great interest in its effectiveness. Many countries including the African governments and people speak highly of aid from China.

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