China’s Bilateral Aid to the South Pacific Region: A Constructivist Analysis
This paper examines the role of China’s national identities and the impact on its foreign aid policies and practices. The multiple identities shape China’s role as a development partner in pursuit of economic cooperation with aid recipients and that seek to engage with traditional aid donors in terms of aid delivery. To explore the influence of national identities-the victimhood identity, the developing country identity and the rising responsible power identity behind China’s foreign aid policies and behaviors, this thesis uses a solid theoretical foundation-Constructivism. It analyses two empirical cases, the Fiji and the Cook Islands from 2006 to 2013, drawing from a large chunk of literature from English and Chinese publications, government documents, and relevant websites. The thesis finds that China’s aid policies and behaviors are mainly consistent with its victimhood and developing country identities. The country regards itself as a development partner rather than an aid donor and places great emphasis on mutual benefit and non-interference principles with a large proportion of its aid focused on infrastructure, construction-based projects. However, it also uncovers that China has started to address aid recipients’ demands. The country has also learned how to handle aid programs from other donor countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, which is incorporated into China’s new rising responsible power identity. The research aims to challenge the dominated rationality-based analysis and hopes to trigger further discussion about China’s aid and development.