Canada ends its aid to China

Updated: 2013-03-22 11:24

By Michael Barris in New York (China Daily)

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Canada's decision to eliminate foreign aid to China is "understandable", given that the money is supposed to be used to help eradicate poverty in the poorest developing countries, a professor at Toronto's York University said.

But Gregory Chin, a former Canadian government aid official, said he regretted that Canada has "no apparent transition strategy" for its China aid program and hasn't come up with a plan to redirect money where it can help the new China.

"The Canadian aid officials do not appear to have coordinated upwards to the Canadian political decision-makers," said Chin, whose scholarly work is centered on China's evolving role as an aid provider.

He described as "unfortunate" Canada's lack of support for "other new dimensions" of the evolving relationship with China.

The aid money, Chin said, could be used to strengthen bilateral work on climate change, environmental protection and other scientific and technological challenges. Canadian assistance could also help China combat its long-standing corruption problems, he said.

China is one of 14 countries that will see their aid either reduced or eliminated by the end of next year as the Canadian International Development Agency cuts the equivalent of $368 million in aid by 2014-15. The cuts are the result of its effort to target funds more precisely and work more with the private sector, the Canadian Press reported.

In 2010-11, Canadian taxpayers contributed nearly $30 million to China, mostly to capacity-building programs that helped the Chinese reform legal and environmental policies. Some aid could continue through nongovernmental organizations and humanitarian channels.

Chin said China's emergence as the world's second-biggest economy, with a growing development budget of its own, has "definitely caused" Canada and other Western countries to pull back on aid.

Douglas Paal, head of the Asia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, said Canada's decision shows that maintaining foreign aid to emerging powers like China is "extremely difficult" amid public demands for government accountability on spending.

(China Daily 03/22/2013 page10)