China gave $18b in foreign aid between 2010-2012

BEIJING (AFP) - China, the world's second-largest economy after a decades-long boom, provided a total of 89.3 billion yuan (S$18 billion) in foreign aid in the three years to 2012, it said on Thursday.

The assistance, in the form of grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans, went to 121 countries - 12 of them in Europe - the State Council, China's Cabinet, said in a report.

The total amounts to 0.06 per cent of China's combined GDP of 139 trillion yuan over the period, far below the 0.7 per cent of GNP target proclaimed by the UN for developed nations.

The US, which has an economy almost twice the size of China's, provided a total of US$31.2 billion (S$38.8 billion) in economic assistance during fiscal year 2012 alone, according to figures on the website of the United States Agency for International Development.

The State Council did not specify which European countries received aid from Beijing.

Of the others, 51 were in Africa, 30 in Asia, 19 in Latin America and the Caribbean, and nine in Oceania, the report said. Regional organisations, including the African Union, also received aid, it added.

It emphasised that China does not tie any "political conditions" to its assistance or interfere in recipient nations' internal affairs.

The report stressed that China's foreign aid has been growing in recent years, though provided no direct comparative figures. A previous report said that by the end of 2009, China had provided a total of 256.3 billion yuan in aid to foreign countries.

The report does not cover aid provided last year when China was criticised after offering the Philippines - with which it is embroiled in a longstanding row over islands in the South China Sea - what was seen as paltry assistance after the devastation wreaked by Typhoon Haiyan.

Beijing initially announced a US$100,000 cash donation with a matching one from the Chinese Red Cross - substantially below the aid provided by the charitable foundation of Swedish furniture store IKEA, though it soon said another 10 million yuan for relief was in the pipeline.

Concessional loans, which the State Council described as including "large and medium-sized infrastructure projects", accounted for the lion's share of China's assistance during the three-year period at 55.7 per cent.

Grants made up 36.2 per cent of the total, while interest-free loans accounted for 8.1 per cent, the report said.

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