Tracking Chinese Aid through China Customs: Darlings and Orphans after the COVID-19 Outbreak

Kiel Working Paper 2232.

60 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2022 Last revised: 30 Oct 2022

See all articles by Andreas Fuchs

Andreas Fuchs

Kiel Institute for the World Economy; University of Goettingen (Göttingen) - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration

Lennart C. Kaplan

University of Goettingen (Göttingen)

Krisztina Kis-Katos

University of Goettingen (Göttingen)

Sebastian Schmidt

University of Goettingen (Göttingen)

Felix Turbanisch

University of Goettingen (Göttingen)

Feicheng Wang

University of Groningen; Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), Bonn

Date Written: September 1, 2022

Abstract

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, China’s mask and vaccine diplomacy have been widely discussed, but the debate relies on a few stylized data points. This article introduces a systematic way to measure China’s foreign aid in almost real-time through official customs records of exported aid goods. Our results show significant shifts in China’s aid after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. First, medical aid skyrocketed after the outbreak. It was initially dominated by face masks and other protective equipment and later by vaccines. This came at the expense of non-medical aid, which was 16.3 percent below its pre-pandemic level. Second, China’s aid became global, clearly extending beyond the Global South. Third, in the aftermath of the initial outbreak in March 2020, China’s aid became less responsive to both recipient need and political friendship, which can be mainly attributed to the rise of aid through non-government sources. However, in the vaccine diplomacy period of 2021, economic needs and political factors have regained their original importance.

Keywords: official development assistance, aid exports, China, COVID-19, mask diplomacy, vaccine diplomacy, Health Silk Road

JEL Classification: F35, F59, H12, H84, I15, I18, P33

Suggested Citation

Fuchs, Andreas and Fuchs, Andreas and Kaplan, Lennart C. and Kis-Katos, Krisztina and Schmidt, Sebastian and Turbanisch, Felix and Wang, Feicheng, Tracking Chinese Aid through China Customs: Darlings and Orphans after the COVID-19 Outbreak (September 1, 2022). Kiel Working Paper 2232., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4216494 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4216494

Andreas Fuchs (Contact Author)

Kiel Institute for the World Economy ( email )

Kiellinie 66
Kiel, Schleswig-Hosltein 24105
Germany

University of Goettingen (Göttingen) - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration ( email )

Platz der Goettinger Sieben 3
Goettingen, 37073
Germany

Lennart C. Kaplan

University of Goettingen (Göttingen) ( email )

Platz der Gottinger Sieben 3
Gottingen, D-37073
Germany

Krisztina Kis-Katos

University of Goettingen (Göttingen) ( email )

Sebastian Schmidt

University of Goettingen (Göttingen) ( email )

Felix Turbanisch

University of Goettingen (Göttingen) ( email )

Platz der Gottinger Sieben 3
Gottingen, D-37073
Germany

Feicheng Wang

University of Groningen ( email )

Groningen, 9717 JA
Netherlands

Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), Bonn

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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