Michael Tierney is a Professor of Government and International Relations at the College of William and Mary. He serves as the Co-Director of the Global Research Institute, and is a co-founder of AidData, a world-leading research lab that equips policymakers and practitioners with better evidence to improve how sustainable development investments are targeted, monitored, and evaluated.
The Chinese government does not disclose its foreign aid or its official lending to developing countries at the project level. In fact, China considers these “state secrets.” However, through open-source data collection methods pioneered by AidData, a research lab at the College of William & Mary, researchers and policy analysts now have a clearer picture of how much money the Chinese government allocates, what sectors it funds, which countries receive financial transfers, and the terms of these grants, loans, and investments. With access to these systematic data, researchers from around the world have sought to understand the motives for Chinese allocation and the various political, economic, conflict, and environmental effects that these financial flows have in the developing world. Results support much of the conventional wisdom about “Chinese aid,” but also overturn a number of myths. This broad talk for a general audience will synthesize recent results to show what we know and what we need to know about Chinese development finance: broad patterns, causes and effects.