China Aid Blog emerged as I was writing my PhD dissertation on Chinese foreign aid and China’s role(s) in international development. The idea behind it? To most observers, Chinese aid is still a black box, not least because of the Chinese government’s alleged secrecy when it comes to publishing the numbers and details of its aid projects. But, if one can read Chinese, the box suddenly appears much less “black”. There is, in fact, a very vivid and controversial debate about Chinese aid in the Chinese public sphere and a substantial body of official, semi-official and academic sources. In the spirit of open knowledge, this blog aims to make this debate accessible to observers and analysts of Chinese aid – through translations and summaries, particularly to those who don’t read Chinese. If you come across a relevant source you would like to share here, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Editor, Marina Rudyak
I am a sinologist working on the intersections of China Studies and International Development based at the Centre of Asian and Transcultural Studies (Institute of Chinese Studies) at Heidelberg University. I am currently on leave, as I have taken on a visiting professorship for Chinese society and economy at Göttingen University and for Chinese politics at Goethe University Frankfurt.
My interest in Chinese foreign aid stems from my previous carrier in international development, having spent several years with the German aid agency GIZ in Beijing. I decided to return to academia in 2013, at a time when not too much was known about Chinese aid. I wanted to ask the questions I would ask a European aid worker and answer them as a Sinologist, somebody who can read Chinese and has a background in Chinese cultural studies and politics. My dissertation, “Becoming a Donor: National Role Conceptions, Reform Dynamics and Learning in China’s Foreign Aid System” (defended in April 2020 summa cum laude), traced the evolution of China’s foreign aid since the early days of the PRC, showing how China’s aid has always been part of a global story, embedded in a global context and directly or indirectly shaped by global shifts. I am now working on a book manuscript and continue to research China’s international development cooperation (including BRI and China in Central Asia and Africa).
I am also the political ideology of the Chinese Communist Party and coded communication in Chinese politics. I am a co-creator of the Decoding China Dictionary, a project which analyses how key terms of international relations and development cooperation are understood differently in Europe and China. Moreover, I currently closely follow and write about China-Russia relations – and am one of the few people in Western Europe who speaks both Russian and Chinese.
If you want to get in touch, reach out at marina.rudyak[at]zo.uni-heidelberg.de.