Experts see transparency on foreign aid

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China has become more transparent about disclosing information on its foreign aid in order to clear up misunderstandings on the issue, according to experts.

Zhang Hongming, deputy director of the Institute of West Asian and African Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that as China is a developing country with a huge population, the aid it gives to other countries should be according to the realities of its own economic development.

"Some people like to link China's aid with its investment in Africa, which is incorrect," said Zhang.

"Economic and trading relations between China and African countries are becoming more complex and diversified than before, but investment and aid are two different things."

A growing number of Chinese companies, especially private ones, are getting more interested in investing in Africa.

During President Xi Jinping's recent visit to Africa, China agreed to offer $20 billion in loans to Africa between 2013 and 2015. The money will be spent on infrastructure construction projects.

"The Chinese government is becoming more open and transparent on its foreign aid, which has received positive feedback," said Yu Yingfu, deputy director-general of the Department of Aid to Foreign Countries under the Ministry of Commerce.

China's foreign aid accounts for around 0.07 percent of the country's GDP, which means the nation spent around 40 billion yuan ($6.4 billion) annually to provide aids to more than 100 countries.

Aid to African countries accounts for around half of China's total contribution in this field, and European countries' foreign aid accounts for an average of 0.3 percent of their gross national income, Yu said.

There are no political strings attached to China's aid, he said.

China's photovoltaic solar industry has developed rapidly in recent years. This mature technology can be introduced into Africa where there is a great deal of sunshine.

Some PV solar projects in discussion between China and African countries, but nothing has been finalized, said Yu.

By the end of 2012, China had offered aid to 53 African countries, assisting 1,000 agricultural, infrastructure construction, housing, education and healthcare projects, according to the commerce ministry. China also provided free training to 53,700 people from Africa, and sent medical teams to 42 African countries by the end of 2012.

China will continue to increase its aid to Africa and boost cooperation with African countries in many sectors including agriculture, education, clean energy, environmental protection, hydropower and solar power, according to the ministry.

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