Global Policy Forum

AidData Releases New Open Database on Chinese Development Funding


Responding to the lack of information on Chinese development aid, the initiative AidData recently released an open database on the topic. AidData uses media reporting as their source of information and in their working paper published by the Center for Global Development the authors present their Media-Based Data Collection methodology. The authors also provide overviews on Chinese development financing, previous attempts to measure it, as well as on important policy debates.

One of the results of the study is the fact that China's assistance to Africa almost amounts to that of the United States. From 2000 to 2011 Chinese assistance adds up to around 75 billion US dollars, while the U.S. during the same period invested 90 billions.

China's Development Finance to Africa: A Media-Based Approach to Data Collection - Working Paper 323

Austin Strange, Bradley C. Parks, Michael J. Tierney, Andreas Fuchs, Axel Dreher, and Vijaya Ramachandran


How big is China’s aid to Africa? Does it complement or undermine the efforts of traditional donors? China releases little information, and outside estimates of the size and nature of Chinese aid vary widely. In an effort to overcome this problem, AidData, based at the College of William and Mary, has compiled a database of thousands of media reports on Chinese-backed projects in Africa from 2000 to 2011. The database includes information on 1,673 projects in 50 African countries and on $75 billion in commitments of official finance. This paper describes the new database methodology, key findings, and possible applications of the data, which is being made publicly available for the first time. The paper and database offer a new tool set for researchers, policymakers, journalists, and civil-society organizations working to understand China’s growing role in Africa. The paper also discusses the challenges of quantifying Chinese development activities, introduces AidData’s Media-Based Data Collection (MBDC) methodology, provides an overview of Chinese development finance in Africa as tracked by this new database, and discusses the potential and limitations of MBDC as a resource for tracking development finance.

Strange, Austin et al. (2013): China's Development Finance to Africa: A Media-Based Approach to Data Collection. Working Paper 323. Washington D.C.: Center for Global Development.


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