Updates on SDG Goal #8 in China
The global economy is an ever-changing and ever-expanding system. Whether through the opening of new markets, job creation or GDP fluctuations, one can measure the success of an economy in numerous ways. However, attempts at sustainability goals receive more specific judgment. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) measure the success of an economy not only in regard to its growth but also that growth’s sustainability. Many countries with SDGs are those that have a pivotal impact on the world economy overall. This correlates with positive updates on SDG 8 in China, which commits the nation to the achievement of full employment for all citizens by 2030.

Laying the Economic Foundation

The Chinese economy has undergone many changes over the centuries. In the first 1,500 years, China followed the policy of Isolationism strictly. In the next few centuries, China gradually opened to the European countries. Many countries such as Germany, Russia and England vied for control over many of China’s crucial exports and markets. By the 20th century, China faced more pervasive and detrimental economic factors. It suffered from the toll of its countless Opium Wars as well as the resulting strain of having to compete with other countries vying for its resources. But by the mid-21st century, the post-WWII economic boom rejuvenated and then expanded China into the economic force that it is today.

Positive Correlations for SDG 8 in China

There are positives to China’s economic growth. World reliance on Chinese goods does not have a parallel, with China occupying a large percentage of the world’s imports. Furthermore, the particular rise in GDP in Beijing, which now accounts for 5% of China’s GDP, indicates the importance of Beijing as an ever-growing and pertinent city in China and the world’s economy.

Beijing itself has also sought to expand the visibility of industrialization in China. For example, Beijing devised a plan to push 15 million people into workplace training, as well as the expansion of 11 million more jobs by the end of 2021. China’s rise in GDP is so colossal that it actually managed to grow by 2.3% during the COVID-19 pandemic while many other prominent economies have dropped by 2.3%. This suggests positive updates on SDG 8 in China for development and job creation. Furthermore, estimates of China’s GDP, if its growth continues, could overtake the U.S. economy by 2028. If the value of Chinese currency continues to increase, it could accelerate this rise by 2026.

The Challenges

The results of these estimates are promising, but they are still only estimates. Moreover, there are prominent issues when it comes to the area of decent work. China’s advancing industrialization puts profound stress and lack of availability on its rural citizens. Those left behind in China account for about 30.46 million and are confined to the rural areas in China.

One of China’s main problems is the uncertainty of it all. Furthermore, a Communist government controls China. As a result, the political system suffers from high amounts of censorship and misinformation. Eric Hu accounted in the New York Times that “China is both the world’s newest superpower and its largest authoritarian state.”

Hu’s and similar statements acknowledge the economic power of China. However, the nature of China’s political system does question the validity of its informative claims, including those of an economic nature. China resists forfeiting government control or enlisting the aid of NGOs. In fact, many successful NGOs have to operate without government permission in order to assist people facing poverty. Yet, there is some improvement in this area, with available NGOs like Jiangxi bringing 500,000 yuan to struggling Chinese villages as well as financial plans for its disbursement.

Meeting Opportunities

China’s middle class may be on the rise, as well as its GDP and hopeful updates on SDG 8 in China. However, in order for true advancement to occur, there needs to be a greater emphasis upon financial aid and transparency towards its citizens who are in poverty and even extreme poverty. If this occurs, coupled with China’s impressive GDP growth, the country could attain many economic benefits.

– Jacob Hurwitz
Photo: Flickr

International Affairs Budget
A new proposal emanating from the United States Congress titled “Investing in 21st Century Diplomacy” aims to increase the International Affairs Budget by $12 billion in 2022. The proposal, which Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Chris Murphy recently created along with Reps. Ami Bera and David Cicilline, primarily targets a trio of crucial issues that the congressional leaders have singled out for funding.

Pandemic Preparedness and Global Health

One of those issues stems from the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Near the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, a study found that over two-thirds of health centers and clinics in Nepal and Bangladesh did not have any face masks. Additionally, countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) scored poorly on reviews of preparedness to protect healthcare workers with a noted lack of sustainable response plans cited among other factors in the results.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic hit the economies of developing countries particularly hard. In fact, a United Nations Development Programme study found that over a billion people may end up in extreme poverty by 2030 due to the effects of the pandemic. The United Nations did a study to determine the estimate, indicating that the economy lost $100 billion in investments in March and April 2020. This was due to a substantial flood of money pouring out of developing countries.

In light of the lessons learned from the ongoing fight against COVID-19 and its toll on developing nations, the aforementioned congressional leaders have crafted a portion of their proposal to address that lack of worldwide resources dedicated to fighting future pandemics. This takes the form of an over $6 billion increase in global health programs and an over $2 billion increase in funds reserved for global health security among other measures. Furthermore, the proposal lists $500 million of funding for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, a partnership designed to develop vaccines to prevent future pandemics that the United States did not invest in during the 2019 fiscal year.

Competing with China’s Global Influence

While global assistance like this has undergone debate in the United States, China has become a world leader in foreign aid. China’s lending of $104 billion to developing countries rivals that of the World Bank that is lending $106 billion. The implementation of those funds has led to concerns that China is creating, “unsustainable debt burdens” for some low-income countries. Other countries are criticizing China’s growing influence as an attempt to strengthen the nation’s control over the ideologies within developing countries that have accepting significant aid. This has prompted concerns about the promotion of authoritarian governmental models and the censorship of opposing ideologies there.

The Investing in the 21st Century Diplomacy proposal will increase funding to the Global Engagement Center by $85 million. The Global Engagement Center addresses propaganda-related issues. Likewise, the proposed increase to the International Affairs Budget includes funding aimed at combating corruption in developing nations as well. Furthermore, the proposal of creating a boost in the International Affairs Budget includes a doubling of the investment cap set on the Development Finance Corporation, a government organization mainly dedicated to assisting low-and-middle-income countries with development projects. The proposal details this as a step to provide different sources for foreign nations to receive investments. This is in response to the significantly larger size of the Chinese equivalent to the DFC, the China Development Bank.

Green Investments

The proposal also includes funding earmarked for other organizations committed to helping developing countries, specifically in regard to green initiatives. One of the foremost components of that funding is a recommitment to the Green Climate Fund. This will be in the form of $3 billion. The fund will help find and implement green solutions in developing countries.

The United States Congress has not prioritized green solutions and recovery efforts related to COVID-19. In a report, the U.N. Environment Programme and Oxford’s Economic Recovery Project expressed that “only 18% of announced recovery spending can be considered green.”

The proposed increase in funds to the International Affairs Budget addresses a number of important, pressing issues facing the world today. Hopefully, through the International Affairs Budget, these issues will reduce.

Brett Grega
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Gigafactory,Over the last few years, there has been a lot of turbulence between the U.S. and China, especially in the areas of business and trade. Through all of the challenges though, U.S. car company, Tesla, managed to erect one of its famed Gigafactories in China in 2018 — one of the world’s largest emerging markets. Other than reducing the price of Teslas globally, the Shangai Gigafactory will also continue to raise employment in China and allow the Chinese economy to better develop.

What is a Gigafactory?

Tesla has been revered for its innovation in the electric vehicle (EV) market. Every year, the company seems to attract higher demand from around the world. With demand showing no signs of slowing down, Tesla was forced to rethink how it handles production. The Gigafactory serves as a production powerhouse to resolve the demand problem.

With the addition of the Shanghai Gigafactory, or Giga Shanghai, Tesla now says that it can produce roughly half a million vehicles per year. Gigafactories centralize production and allow for more parts to be made in-house. This cuts time and costs which ultimately results in lower prices for the consumer.

Tesla also made it paramount to make the Gigafactories as environmentally friendly as possible. All three Gigafactories are zero net energy. This means that they only rely on energy from renewable sources. In the case of Gigafactories, this means lots of solar power and no harmful byproducts.

How Giga Shanghai Helps Impoverished Chinese Citizens

Perhaps the most obvious way that Giga Shanghai helps is by providing jobs in China. Since its completion in 2019, the Gigafactory has employed roughly 2,000 people. Many of the jobs are in the production line so they are attainable for everyday citizens with no formal secondary education.

In addition to jobs, Giga Shanghai serves as a solution to the city’s immense pollution problem, with the most impoverished citizens living in the hardest-hit areas. Shanghai usually has an air quality index (AQI) that hovers around 150. Good air quality levels mean an AQI of between zero and 50. In a country where up to 1.24 million people die from pollution-related illnesses every year, Giga Shanghai proves that factories can still operate on a massive scale without relying on fossil fuels and other non-renewable energy sources.

If the energy technology used in Giga Shanghai is applied to other factories in the city, thousands of lives can be saved every year, especially the lives of the most impoverished citizens who cannot afford to move out of the most polluted areas.

Cutting Costs and Bolstering Relations

Before Giga Shanghai, the price of the world’s most popular EV (Tesla Model 3) remained too high for many people in China and abroad. Now, with the ability to produce the Model 3 in China, production and transportation costs have been slashed across Asia and Europe. Compared with the U.S. models, the production cost of the Chinese Tesla Model 3 has dropped by up to 28%. Now more than ever, Chinese citizens can access clean and reliable personal transportation that does not pollute their cities.

Giga Shanghai has also opened the door for new trade opportunities with European nations. Now, countries such as Germany, France, Italy, Portugal and Sweden prefer to purchase Teslas from China since the cost is lower. Trading in higher volume with developed economies means that China is inching closer to becoming a fully developed economy.

Giga Shanghai and the Future

Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, has stated that he would like to see 10 to 20 Gigafactories built over the course of the next couple of decades. Giga Shangai is the “guinea pig” since it is the first Gigafactory outside of the United States. So far, things appear to be running smoothly.

Soon, Gigafactories could be popping up in other emerging markets like Argentina, Mexico and Morocco. Gigafactories may be a stepping stone to help emerging markets become better developed. Job creation is a significant benefit of a Gigafactory. They advance industry, create new opportunities to trade with other countries and offer a clean alternative to gas-powered vehicles. Ultimately, Gigafactories can serve as a catalyst for global poverty reduction.

Jake Hill
Photo: Flickr

POPs Effect on Health
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines persistent organic pollutants (POPs) as toxic chemicals that adversely affect human health. Wind and water can spread POPs from one country to another. They do not easily degrade, can travel through the food chain and from one animal species to another. They also bio-magnify. This means that animals that are higher on the food chain, such as humans, have higher concentrations of POPs in their systems than animals that are lower on the food chain due to ingesting more of them. As a result, POPs’ effect on health is significant.

POPs’ Effect on Health

Reproductive, developmental, behavioral, neurologic, endocrine and immunologic adverse health effects all have links to POPs. Exposure to high levels of certain POPs can cause serious damage or death to humans and wildlife.

POPs’ effect on health is due to the fact they accumulate in fats and do not easily dissolve in water. Children, the elderly and people with suppressed immune systems, as well those who rely on fishing and hunting, are most vulnerable. Babies can also ingest POPs through breast milk and the placenta.

The first 12 POPs and categories of POPs to receive recognition as hazardous are Aldrin, Chlordane, DDT, Dieldrin, Endrin, Heptachlor, Mirex, Toxaphene, PCBs, Hexachlorobenzene, Dioxins and Furans. Dioxins and Furans are unintentionally produced POPs (UPOPs). They are extremely toxic and serve no purpose.

International Cooperation

The Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution Protocol on POPs and the Stockholm Convention, both seek to remedy the problem of POPs. The Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution Protocol recognizes the 12 original legacy POPs along with four more whereas the Stockholm Convention recognizes 29 POPs. They encourage the use of effective, affordable and environmentally safe alternatives to POPs.

The U.S. has signed the Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution Protocol on POPs and the Stockholm Convention but is not yet a party to either of them. This means that while the U.S. will not interfere with the two conventions, it is not bound by them.

POPs and the Human Diet

POPs affect chicken and one can find them in animal fat, cow’s milk, butter and fish. They also exist in vegetables, cereals and fruits in trace amounts. Also, fish can contain microplastics that POPs attach to easily. As a result, humans can ingest them.

POPs can affect children and young people in the following ways: birthweight, length of gestation, reduced seminal parameters, impaired semen quality, male genital anomalies, breast cancer in young women, in utero exposure associated with neurodevelopment and infant neurodevelopment.

Experts also associate the following developmental outcomes with POPs including a decrease in motor delay detectable from newborn to age 2 years old, defects in visual recognition memory at 7 months old, lower IQ at 42 months (maybe some contribution from postnatal exposure), defects in short term memory at 4 years old and delays in cognitive development at 11 years old.

POPs can also cause peripheral neuropathies, fatigue, depression, personality changes, hepatitis, enlarged liver, abnormal enzyme levels, porphyria cutanea tarda, chloracne, polyneuropathy, hepatomegaly and porphyria.

POPs are endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Because of this, they affect the pituitary gland, the thyroid glands, the parathyroids, the adrenal glands, the pineal glands, the ovaries and the testes. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has identified the best available techniques to implement the Stockholm Convention.

POP Threat Reduction: Zambia

A number of measures exist that can reduce the threat of POPs. Traditionally, hospitals burn their waste in low-temperature burning chambers creating UPOPs. Instead, hospitals could use an autoclave to safely and effectively clean the medical waste without producing UPOPs. Increasing public awareness can also help. Moreover, changes to electronics and recycling can also keep POPs from affecting the public.

Three key health facilities in Zambia are now using an autoclave. The NGO Health Care Without Harm provided it to the facilities.

POP Threat Reduction: Asia

Kazakhstan now also uses autoclaves to process medical waste. To date, six medical waste disposal sites, with two autoclaves each, are in existence in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has amended its environmental code to include UPOPs emissions. Kyrgyzstan has also received 13 autoclaves.

China has sought to educate the public through communication activities and campaigns about this problem. It has also piloted a design to reduce 20% of POPs in laptop design manufacturing.

In Indonesia, the UNDP is assisting the Ministry of Industry with following up on recommendations from the Stockholm Convention. They are doing this by reducing the emissions of toxic flame retardants and UPOPs resulting from unsound waste management and unsound recycling. Now, Indonesia is removing POPs in its recycling process. At present, Indonesia has reduced 190 metric tons of toxic flame retardants (PBDEs) and UPOPs from the manufacturing processes, recycling and disposal activities. Indonesia has also developed and implemented three pilot projects to access viable approaches for decontamination and the elimination of equipment contaminated with PCBs.

POP Threat Reduction: South America

Colombia has established a long-term development objective to strengthen institutions that manage PCBs. It is doing this by analyzing, quantifying and controlling them at a national scale and by promoting the development of PCB treatment and disposal. It has prepared a technical manual for the environmentally sound management of PCBs. Colombia has eliminated 1,600 tons of PCBs from contaminated oil, contaminated equipment and other wastes. With assistance from the electricity sector, Colombia now has four treatment plants for the environmentally safe management, decontamination, and disposal of PCBs. These pilot projects are responsible for labeling and identifying the PCB content of 3,500 pieces of electrical equipment to date. Colombia has also established 14 accredited laboratories for the analytical determination of PCB content.

Meanwhile, Ecuador has succeeded in eliminating 1,127 metric tons of PCBs from use. It has strengthened the development of national policies to manage PCBs by increasing PCB analytical capacities fourfold. Ecuador has accredited two laboratories for that purpose. In addition, it has successfully inventoried, collected, replaced and eliminated all PCBs from the Galapagos Islands with the goal of keeping Galapagos free of PCBs.

POPs’ effect on health is so varied that it is integral that people eliminate their use globally. Luckily, several parts of the world are doing their part to reduce their use in order to keep citizens safe.

– Wendy Redfield
Photo: Flickr

Forced Uyghur LaborForced labor stemming from human rights violations in the Xinjiang province of China has been linked to at least 83 major corporations. In a report released by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) in February 2020, companies such as Nike, Gap, H&M, Apple, BMW, Gap, Huawei, Samsung, Sony and Volkswagen all have connections to the use of forced Uyghur labor in China. The report identified 27 factories in China that employ the use of labor transferred from Xinjiang.

Human Rights Violations of the Uyghur Population

Between 2017 and 2019, it is estimated that over 80,000 Uyghurs were moved out of Xinjiang to work in factories across China through labor transfer programs known as “Xinjiang Aid.”  The Chinese government refers to these job assignments as “vocational training” while maintaining that they are part of the “re-education” process assigned to the Uyghur population. These programs have all been identified in connection to the human rights abuses of the Uyghur population as a whole.

It is reported that surveillance tools are being used to monitor the Uyghur population in these programs and to restrict their freedom of movement. Additionally, it has been reported that they are subject to threats, arbitrary detainment and abusive working conditions.

Factories Identified and Company Responses

The companies identified in connection to this forced labor use include international brands that span across the technology, clothing and automotive sectors.

In the technology sector, Apple, Amazon, Samsung, Sony and Microsoft, among others, have been connected to factories that utilize forced labor in China. Amazon has issued a statement saying they do not tolerate the use of forced labor and will be investigating these findings further.

The Qingdao Taekwang Shoes Co. Ltd has been specifically connected to forced labor of the Uyghur population. Workers at this factory also attend a night school that seems to closely resemble the “re-education camps” in the Xinjiang province. Nike is this factory’s primary customer and released a statement saying that the factory has not recruited new workers from Xinjiang since last year and that it is seeking advice on the most responsible path toward handling the employment of the remaining workers from this region.

The Haoyuanpeng Clothing Manufacturing Co. Ltd is also identified as using forced labor. This factory’s corporate website cites partnerships with the companies Fila, Adidas, Puma and Nike. Adidas specifically stated that it does not have a current relationship with the company and is investigating this claim. Nike has also released a statement that it has no current relationship with the factory.

Since the release of ASPI’s report, H&M has ended a relationship with a Chinese yarn supplier due to its ties to forced labor.

The Global Supply Chain

The complexity of the global supply chain has undoubtedly made it more difficult for global corporations to monitor the connections of their suppliers to forced labor in China, but ASPI reached out to all 83 brands included in the report to confirm details of their suppliers as listed in the report.

Unfortunately, companies and consumers are now put at risk by purchasing goods that connect to forced labor. Investors in these 83 companies are potentially at risk as well. U.S. Congress has recently introduced legislation to protect investors through the requirement of disclosure of goods sourced from Xinjiang.

The End Uyghur Forced Labor Coalition

There are several advocacy groups dedicated to spreading awareness and furthering tangible steps to end the persecution and exploitation of the Uyghur population. The End Uyghur Forced Labor Coalition has written to 17 companies regarding the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (S. 3471), which is intended to end the use of forced labor from this region in supply chains. The coalition has also issued a call to action that aims for brands to remove all connections with suppliers that have used forced labor. This has been endorsed by investor organizations from more than 35 countries as well as more than 300 Uyghur groups, trade unions and civil society groups.

Ending Forced Uyghur Labor

Though most companies were not aware of the use of forced labor of Uyghurs, along with the awareness that was brought to light, action is also being taken by these companies to show that they do not support forced labor by any means. The End Uyghur Forced Labor Coalition is doing important work to continue bringing awareness to the issue and to protect the rights of this vulnerable minority population.

– Katherine Musgrave
Photo: Flickr

Beginning along the famed Silk Road’s winding trails, the story of being Uighur in the Xinjiang territory in China is one of lost prosperity and an eternal struggle against the oppression from outside forces.

The Uighur Plight

At the height of the Karahanid Kingdom in 934 A.D., the Uighur were a prosperous people. Their cities were epicenters of philosophical and scientific thought, and the capital city Kashgar was a bastion of Islam. This all ended with the invasion of the Manchu Empire and the eventual takeover of the Chinese Nationalists in 1911.

Xinjiang has since been designated as an autonomous region within China. Despite this, the Chinese government has implemented numerous policies in hopes of assimilating the Uighur people and crushing separatist movements. The Uighurs have now become a minority in Xinjiang as the Han Chinese have become the majority in the region’s urban areas. The Xinjiang have been abetted by government incentives, while the Uighurs have been largely confined to poor rural areas. The wealthy and influential capital city Urumqi is now approximately 75% Han Chinese.

Uighurs in Xinjiang have had their land redistributed to the Han migrants, leaving not enough farming land behind to make a living. According to Reuters, the Uighur people face discriminatory hiring practices with many businesses displaying signs banning them from applying for jobs. This marginalization along with growing poverty among the Uighur people has spurred increased resentment towards Beijing and the ruling Communist Party. In 2001, the Chinese government used 9/11 and the resulting American War on Terror to repress the Uighurs’ desire for independence and begin intense surveillance and military operations.

Surveillance and Re-education

According to Human Rights Watch, Beijing requires officers in the region to use what is called the Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP) as part of the Strike Hard Campaign to track the movements of the Uighurs and other ethnic minorities. The IJOP operating system and app, created by state-owned contractors, is used to aggregate data and flag the location of those deemed potentially threatening. The app tracks the movement of phones and vehicles, alerting officials to what are considered suspiciously long trips. The IJOP app also prompts officials to keep the biometric data of every person, including fingerprints, DNA, and blood type.

The IJOP has become a key component in the next stage in Beijing’s ploy for control, particularly with the implementation of so-called “reeducation camps.” Such camps were created by the Regulations on De-extremification in March 2017, specifically designed to convert Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities to the ideological beliefs of the Communist Party. All forms of traditional religious clothing, literature, and practice are considered extremist and cause for internment in the camps under the regulation. Any form of travel is reason enough for being labeled suspicious and possibly being sent to the camps. People of all ages, male and female, are at risk. Security checks and invasive checks have become part of everyday life in Xinjiang, making it impossible to escape suspicion.

Inside the re-education camps, detainees are forced to learn about the teachings and ideologies of the Communist Party. According to those who have been detained, individuals who fail to comply are punished severely. The penalties range from verbal abuse to food deprivation, solitary confinement, beatings, and the use of restraints and stress positions. Deaths inside the camps have been reported but there is no way to verify how many people have died and the circumstances concerning their deaths. The number of detainees also remains unknown. Estimates are in the hundreds of thousands, possibly nearing one million.

What Is Being Done?

In the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’s (CERD) periodic report on China, the committee stated its concern that the poverty rates among ethnic minorities in Xinjiang remain high. CERD also stated its deep concern about “numerous reports of detention of large numbers of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities . . . without being charged or tried.” CERD urged China to halt the unlawful detention of individuals and immediately release those who have been detained.

U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet is currently seeking access to China to review these reports. However, Chinese officials claim the happiest Muslims in the world live in Xinjiang, as well as assert that “hostile Western forces” are simply misrepresenting and vilifying what is occurring in Xinjiang. The United States is preparing to enact a new round of sanctions against China over this mass imprisonment of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities. According to the Uyghur Humans Rights Project, these sanctions were previously halted due to trade negotiations with China during the G20 summit but have since been approved by all respective parties within the U.S. government.

Though the current situation for the Uighur people of Xinjiang remains dire, through diplomatic action by the U.N., the United States, and its allies are bringing awareness to the issue. Such dedication by international intervention has presented continued hope. Such hope is for a future where being Uighur in Xinjiang will cease to be a story of systematic oppression and instead will become a story of perseverance through great odds.

– Shane Thoma
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

China’s Foreign Aid
The pathway of China’s development in foreign aid has strongly correlated with its own trajectory of economic and diplomatic development. China’s foreign aid programs have matched with its modernization over the past seven decades, going from limited in scope to becoming both global and influential.

China’s Development Regarding Foreign Aid

For instance, four noticeable and distinct time periods showcase China’s approach toward foreign aid. In its first phase, from 1949 to China’s adoption of Reform and Opening-up Policy in 1978, its foreign aid was primarily ideological and centered around competing with Taiwan for diplomatic recognition as the rightful claimant to China following World War II. For instance, China utilized aid in order to encourage countries to vote favorably for or side diplomatically with China in international institutions. By the end of 1975 during the cultural revolution, foreign aid had amounted to 5.9% of total government spending. For comparison, in recent years, the United Kingdom’s spending on foreign aid peaked at 0.7% of its GDP. Following the Reform and Opening-up Policy, aid took a complementary role to diplomatic cooperation and trade and shrank in ideological orientation.

China’s third phase of aid focused on international institutions as China became increasingly involved in international organizations, treaties and the global economy. Since 2013, in its most recent orientation, foreign aid has matched step with China’s greater economic role in the world as it has played a greater role contributing to global aid infrastructure, such as the World Bank Group, and finds its own ways of improving on the effectivity of its own aid.

The Evolution of Chinese Aid

The expansion and evolution of Chinese aid have come from two main factors, one domestic and one international. Most recently, China’s 13th five-year plan, covering the phase of 2016-2020, laid out an increasingly global agenda for China’s development, bringing up core principles such as sustainability, openness and inclusivity. It follows that China’s current agenda for foreign aid will adopt these development principles. Internationally, adoptions of U.N. resolutions such as the Paris Climate Agreements and the G20 Hangzhou summit have carried sustainable and global development goals into its aid agenda, helping China grow as an international leader in global sustainable development.

A Picture of China’s Foreign Aid

The very nature of estimating China’s foreign aid is challenging because the data itself is a state secret. An AidData report, published in late 2017 and meticulously computed and collected by hand over a period of five years, analyzed Chinese aid commitments from 2000-2014 and provides the most recent data. Furthermore, the nature of China’s foreign aid is unlike that of other major global aid donors because it follows its own unique logic. For instance, only as recently as 2018 had China’s foreign aid come under a single centralized body. Furthermore, Chinese aid tends to emphasize economic and infrastructure aid, coming in the form of export credits or near-market rate loans.

As a result of many of these factors, one can truly call little of China’s aid official development assistance (ODA), the most common type of foreign aid in the world today. In fact, one can consider just 22% of China’s aid ODA, while roughly 93% of U.S. aid is ODA. To illustrate the distinction, estimates using looser definitions of ODA have found that China’s quantity of foreign aid has approached that of the United States in some years. Other estimations of ODA in the strict sense find that China’s quantity of aid is comparable with that of countries such as Luxembourg.

Chinese Foreign Aid Around the World

Of China’s complicated foreign aid breakdown, the top three destinations of Chinese foreign aid around the world are Africa in first with 34% of all aid flow, Central and Eastern Europe with 16% and Latin America with 15%. When accounting for only ODA-like aid, however, aid takes on a more nuanced perspective. While Latin America keeps most of its share, now with 12% of ODA-like flows, Central and Eastern Europe receives only 3% of ODA-like flow, and Africa nearly doubles its portions, receiving 58% of China’s ODA-like aid flows.

The Benefits of China’s Foreign Aid

AidData ultimately concluded in its research that Chinese aid, contrary to some people’s fears, certainly did more good than harm. One point AidData made was that Chinese ODA would, on average, contribute to a 0.7% increase in economic growth two years after project commitments, although it did not find positive correlations between non-ODA aid and growth.

China’s evolution from net aid recipient to major global donor has been a transition that has kept pace with its financial development. Despite the shortlisting of available data and information, China is poised to overtake the U.S. as the largest aid donor in Africa if one considers all of the aid it gives. Mystery ultimately shrouds China’s aid, even today, and to know where the next stage of Chinese aid will go, it would be beneficial to follow China’s broader national development agendas which set the broader tone and direction of all economic efforts in the country. Given its expanded role in today’s world, China will likely continue on its overall trend of improving both the quantity and impact of its own foreign aid as it incorporates international development agendas, learning from and teaching others about its own economic lessons.

– Marshall Wu
Photo: Flickr

Global Economy Could Expand
In 2020, the global economy plummeted 4.3% as poverty, death and illness afflicted millions. But, according to January’s Global Economic Prospects, 2021 bears better news. The World Bank states that the global economy could expand by 4%. This economic growth relies on policymakers’ ability to widely and rapidly distribute the COVID-19 vaccine. It also depends on the ability to contain this virus in the following months, but this alone will not be enough. David Malpass, The World Bank President, said “there needs to be a major push to improve business environments, increase labor and product market flexibility, and strengthen transparency and governance” in order to reach economic recovery. Here is some information regarding how the global economy could expand in 2021.

The 2020 Economic Collapse

The COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictive measures to prevent the spread resulted in a severe contraction of the global economy. In a report by The World Bank in June 2020, predictions initially determined that this contraction would be 5.2%, which would have resulted in the deepest recession since World War II.

However, experts are now saying it may have been less severe than some previously projected due to a more robust recovery in China and shallower contractions in advanced economies overall. Experts predicted that these advanced economies would shrink by 7% in 2020 because of disrupted domestic demand, supply, trade and finance while others anticipated that emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs) would contract by 2.5%. Luckily, the impact on EMDEs was also more acute than estimates determined.

Economic Growth 2021

Currently, it is not certain if the global economy will increase by 4%. With delayed rollouts of the COVID-19 vaccine and increasing infection rates, this increase could be as low as 1.6%. That amount is not nearly enough to reach a recovery status in 2021. However, if the vaccine process proceeds at a rapid rate and governments control the pandemic, economic growth could reach almost 5%.

In the United States, GDP decreased by 3.6% in 2020. In the Eurozone, this contraction was 7.5% and activity in Japan shrunk by 5.3%. However, 2021 brings hope. Predictions have determined that the United States’ GDP will increase by 3.5%. Meanwhile, in the Eurozone, experts anticipate that output will grow 3.6%. Meanwhile, in Japan, forecasts have determined that its economy will grow by 2.5%.

In China and other emerging markets and developing economies, aggregate GDP could grow by 4.2% in 2021, after a 2.6% decrease in 2020. On the other hand, EMDEs could expand 3.5%, after a 5% contraction in 2020. This means that a 1.6% increase is necessary to reach economic recovery. Meanwhile, in 2020, China’s economy grew by 2% and may expand an additional 7.9% in 2021. Also, low-income economies may not only economically recover, but also grow by 3.3% after a contraction of only 0.9% in 2020.

Long-Lasting Effects

According to The World Bank’s press release, unless policymakers issue a series of reforms to improve the fundamental drivers of sustainable and equitable economic growth, the next decade could experience growth disappointments due to underemployment, labor force declines in several advanced economies and underinvestment.

To reduce these adverse effects, “policymakers need to continue to sustain the recovery, gradually shifting from income support to growth-enhancing policies. In the longer run, in emerging market and developing economies, policies to improve health and education services, digital infrastructure, climate resilience, and business and governance practices will help mitigate the economic damage caused by the pandemic, reduce poverty and advance shared prosperity.”

Fortunately, it looks like 2021 will bring hope due to the fact that the global economy could expand. Even with the expansion of the global economy, however, much work is necessary to eliminate long-lasting effects and fully recover.

Victoria Mangelli
Photo: Flickr

Roxburgh rose in GuizhouThe Guizhou Province, located in Southwest China, is famous for its beautiful landscapes, reigning mountain ranges and for being a multi-minority region. The province is landlocked, stretching “350 miles from east to west and 320 miles from north to south.” With that much land to cover, it’s no wonder agriculture is one of the main sources of income for rural communities. The crops grown in Guizhou are mainly graze crops including wheat, corn, rice, potatoes and beans. Unfortunately, the harvest is not enough to support local farmers. But, individuals in rural areas have found a great way to turn Guizhou’s natural environment into a booming market with flowers. The cultivation of the Roxburgh rose in Guizhou is helping the province rise out of poverty.

The Story of the Roxburgh Rose in Guizhou

The Roxburgh rose, also known as the chestnut rose, is a soft pink color with a yellow center. The petals are flatter and more spread out than the typical rose giving it the appearance of a large daisy. The plant grows a small, spiky, bitter fruit that many thought had no value. However, villagers who joined the Roxburgh rose industry realized it could be a reliable, profitable source.

The pungent, tart fruit of the rose is known for being extremely high in vitamins and minerals. Some companies claim it has the largest amount of vitamin c of any other fruit. From it, you can produce wine, sparkling beverages and dried candies.

In this region of China, it’s hard to grow continuous crops in the rocky landscape. In Xichong, a city in the Guizhou Province, a man named Ma Jinyou discovered his land had the perfect soil for growing Roxburgh roses. When a group of researchers from the South China University of Technology came to Guizhou to study the pedology of the region, they knew the conditions were ideal. According to Jinyou, a good harvest could bring in around five thousand kilograms of fruit. For that amount of fruit, Jinyou makes a profit of 30,000 yuans ($4,467.61). Soon, Jinyou was able to see his investment in the Roxburgh rose got him out of poverty.

In an article by en.people.cn (Daily People China) they state, “The industry helped 1,798 local people increase their annual income by an average of more than 9,000 yuan.” The Roxburgh roses in Guizhou are helping many individuals rise above the poverty line.

The Beginning of the Roxburgh Rose Industry

Although tourism has been an effective way to lower the poverty rates employing over 900,000 people, Guizhou has been creating opportunities for the rose market. On August 13, 2020 the Roxburgh rose industry was launched in Guizhou, China. Two companies emerged in Bijie to start up the creation of Roxburgh rose products, including The Guangyao Wanglaoji Cininghi Innovation Center and The Guangyao Wanglaoji Industry Company Limited. The two companies are planning to alleviate poverty throughout the Guizhou province by creating a new market and new jobs.

Beverages and dried candies are two of the latest products. GPHL’s chairman, Li Chiyuan, agreed that for every 12 cans sold of Roxburgh rose drinks, his company will donate two yuans to fighting poverty in Guizhou.

In support of the new changes, local institutes wanted to assist in reducing poverty. The Roxburgh rose in Guizhou is now part of research projects in hospitals and respiratory disease research to further discover the benefits of the flower.

– Jessica LaVopa
Photo: Flickr

eradicating rural povertyThe Huanjiang Maonan Autonomous County lies in Guanxi in southern China. A majority of China’s Maonan ethnic group live here in rural villages. Once considered one of China’s most impoverished places, the poverty rate has now dropped to under 2% thanks to efforts by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). By using advanced farming techniques and relocating people to more arable areas, CAS has provided a model for eradicating rural poverty in China.

CAS Goals

Just over 100,000 Maonan live in China, most in small rural villages. About 70,000 of them live in Huanjiang. In the 1990s, Maonan farmers grew mostly corn and sweet potatoes, barely scraping by. The Chinese government identified Huanjiang as one of the most impoverished counties in China.

Maonan villages were located in mountainous, rocky regions known as karst landscapes. These areas are prone to desertification and are unsuitable for farming. CAS started the Kenfu Huanjiang Ecological Migration Pilot Zone in 1996. Its two goals were to relocate people to new villages in areas more suitable for agriculture and to improve the livelihoods of those that refused to relocate.

New Farming Techniques and Solutions

CAS introduced advanced farming techniques that better suit the area. An important change was the shift from farming to livestock. Huanjiang is highly flood-prone so CAS helped plant various grasses that can support animals. Zeng Fuping, a researcher with CAS who has been in Huanjiang since 1994, remarked that “the farmers were unsure initially and they questioned growing something that they could not eat.” However, the results speak for themselves. Income has increased tenfold since the introduction of 200 cattle into the region in 2001. Not only do the grasses support livestock but they also help prevent soil erosion. They have helped prevent widespread desertification, which is a common problem in karst landscapes. This serves as a model for maintaining arable land in karst areas across China.

Eradicating Rural Poverty

The speed of poverty reduction in Huanjiang has been staggering. In 1996, the average resident only earned the equivalent of $45 per year. That number rose to $835 in 2012 and $1600 in 2019.

In 2015, more than 14,000 Maonan people in Huanjiang lived below the Chinese poverty line of $345 per year. This accounted for around 22% of all Maonan peoples living in the county. By 2019, less than 1.5% of Maonan lived in poverty, amounting to 548 people. Due to the efforts of CAS, Huanjiang is no longer an area of extreme poverty in China.

In all of Guanxi, CAS has helped facilitate 400,000 people with relocation to new villages. This includes a majority of the Maonan community. Poverty percentages in Huanjiang have dropped to single digits. Livestock farming has reduced soil erosion and given locals much more disposable income. UNESCO dubbed this strategy the “Kenfu Model” and it is an important example of eradicating rural poverty in China.

– Adam Jancsek
Photo: Flickr