China spent tens of billions of dollars on a dazzling 2008 Olympics. It has sent astronauts into space. It recently became the world’s second largest economy. Yet it gets more than $2.5 billion a year in foreign government aid – and taxpayers and lawmakers in donor countries are increasingly asking why.
With the global economic slowdown crimping government budgets, many countries are finding such generosity politically and economically untenable. China says it’s still a developing country in need of aid, while some critics argue that the money should go to poorer countries in Africa and elsewhere.
Germany and Britain have moved in recent months to reduce or phase out aid. Japan, long China’s biggest donor, halted new low-interest loans in 2008.