Power, Ideas and Institutions: China’s Emergent Footprints in Global Governance of Development Aid

This paper investigates whether China possesses normative power to determine what passes for ‘normal’ in the politics of foreign aid in the context of an ongoing debate about whether China will soon replace the United States as the global hegemon. It proceeds from a proposition that a hegemon, backed by material power preponderance, wields global power through socially recognized norms, rules and institutions. The competing social norms and institutions under study are political conditionality and tying of aid, and the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) and the China-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

We argue that there is a tendency towards a coalescence of Chinese and Western norms and practices, albeit not predicated on good governance. With pressing concerns over security threats, Beijing is re-interpreting its non-interference norm and practice into accepting tacitly a political conditionality approach. China’s ability to project its own norm on tied aid is, however, restrained by the multilateralism of the AIIB. The real machine that China would use to espouse normative changes in international development is its ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative.

However, while OBOR is institutionally shielded from international scrutiny and thus grants China more autonomy to operate, it will give China less normative power to set global standards and to define what passes for ‘normal’ in world politics.

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SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations in addition to a Master's degree in International Security Studies. Alongside this, I have a passion for web development. During my studies, I acquired a strong understanding of fundamental political concepts and theories in international relations, security studies, and strategic studies.

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