Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

Map of Chinese lending projects around the world, concentrated in Europe, Asia, and Africa

The Problem Isn’t that Chinese Lending Is Too Big, It’s that the US and Europe’s Is Too Small

As the possibility of a new Cold War between the US and China gains traction in some foreign policy circles, the scale of Chinese development finance has taken center stage. A closer examination suggests the cost to China of this lending is distinctly underwhelming. It would be cheap for the US and Europe to match China’s lending numbers –and in the interest of global development if it was done right.

An image of a Chinese city

Fiscal Policy and Income Distribution in China

Since China introduced far-reaching economic reforms in 1978, it has experienced rapid economic growth and social development that has significantly improved the overall well-being of the Chinese population and lifted an enormous number of people out of poverty. But at the same time, income inequality in China has increased dramatically over the past three decades, and there is a significant divide between urban and rural areas as well as between regions.

A construction worker at an unfinished building in China. Curt Carnemark, World Bank photo.

With a Debt Crisis Looming, Researchers Who Estimated China’s “Hidden” Lending Respond to Their Critics

Last year, economists Sebastian Horn, Carmen Reinhart, and Christoph Trebesch put forward estimates of the Chinese government’s external (“overseas”) lending in a working paper. Their work was a landmark effort in a number of respects. Perhaps not surprisingly for a working paper, Horn et al. also attracted critics. In a new note for CGD, Horn et al. respond to this criticism.

A stock photo of a see-through piggy bank. Adobe Stock.

A Reckoning for China’s Opaque Overseas Lending

We are so accustomed to the Chinese government’s lack of transparency that the opaqueness of China’s overseas loans seems unremarkable at this point. But as we face what inevitably looks like a global debt crisis, one that is likely to hit low-income countries particularly hard, a clear accounting of the scale of the problem is critical. 

A worker working on wood floors in a factory in Zhejiang, China. Photo by ILO, via Flickr

COVID-19’s Impact on China’s Small and Medium-sized Businesses

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began in Nov. 2019 in Hubei Province, China, business activity in the world’s second-largest economy has ground to a halt. China’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which generate 90% of employment, constitute 80% of exports, and account for 70% of GDP, have been hit particularly hard.