Winning Hearts and Minds or Stoking Resentment?
Exploring the Effects of Chinese Foreign Aid on Africans’ Perceptions of China

2018 NCCU Institute for International Relations Conference

Evan Jones
University of Maryland

03 December, 2018

Geopolitics of China’s Foreign Aid

  • Between 2000-12, Africa received 52 billion (2014 USD deflated) in aid (Bluhm et al. 2018)
  • 2017 US National Security White Paper: Economically counter “China’s often extractive economic footprint on the continent [Africa]”
  • 2018 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation: Xi Jinping pledges another $60 billion in aid to African countries
  • 2018 US BUILD Act: doubles Overseas Private Investment Corporation budget and legalizes equity stakes

Is Aid All Geopolitics?

Aid as an instrument of geopolitics (Morgenthau 1962; Alesina and Dollar 2000; Dreher and Fuchs 2015)

But it has important soft power implications

Tangible impacts of Chinese Aid:

  • Improved economic development (Dreher et al. 2017)
  • local corruption (Isaksson and Kotzadam 2016)
  • environmental degradation (BenYishay et al. 2016)
  • Improved household welfare (Martorano et al. 2018)
  • Reduced economic inequality (Bluhm et al. 2018)

Research Questions

  1. What is the effect of foreign aid on individuals’ attitudes toward donor countries, in particular China?
  2. More generally, does aid and investment win hearts and minds or stoke resentments?
  3. What are the mechanisms through which aid influences individual’s opinions?
  4. Do ODA-like and OOF aid have differential effects?



DV “Now let’s talk about the role that China plays in our country. In general, do you think that China’s economic and political influence on [ENTER COUNTRY] is mostly positive, or mostly negative, or haven’t you heard enough to say”? (Q81b)