China's aid to Africa: competitor or alternative to the OECD aid architecture?

Zehlia Babaci‐Wilhite (University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway)
Macleans A. Geo‐JaJa (McKay School of Education, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA)
Lou Shizhou (Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua, China)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Publication date: 28 June 2013



The emergence of the Chinese aid consensus has come to have profound implications for sustainability. The Beijing Consensus “sovereignty doctrine” of non‐interference, presents a stark contrast to the Washington Consensus architecture of imposed conditionalities and the serving of geopolitical interests. For this reason, from Africa's perspective, the Beijing Consensus appears to represent the preferred comprehensive meta‐narrative for Africa. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the attributes of “good” aid architecture in relation to the peculiarities of Africa's challenges.


In examining its principles, objectives, framework differences and impact, the Beijing model shows that it supports the human rights which “unleash”, empower and protect self‐directed development grounded in ownership and in the strategic interests of recipients.


The Washington Consensus has been problematic for African development because it is economistic and exclusively instrumentalist. While conceding to this shortcoming, the inability of the consensus to appreciate the unique and complex development problems of Africa is more troubling. Comparing the two, the Beijing Consensus, which is multidimensional and encompasses the intrinsic and non‐economic roles of development aid, with the consequence of over‐emphasizing expanding local policy, is adjudged practical for Africa. The conclusion is that the dominant Washington Consensus is too poorly articulated and structured to respond to declared determination for ownership, mitigating capabilities deprivation, and improving development control.


This paper has argued that the basic approach of the Beijing Consensus has been more generous and more attractive for sustainable development in Africa. Much more important, perhaps, is the ability of the consensus to appreciate the unique and complex development problems which occur as a consequence of donor deafness on limited rights and conditionalities. In sum, the Beijing Consensus results in exclusionary changes of “less magnitude and speed” and promotes poverty reduction and sustainable development. Taken together, these factors and practices mean that the Beijing Consensus best serves the staircase of a nation's pathway to indigenous development, when compared with the Washington Consensus. Such a comprehensive meta‐narrative that builds alliances and creates a foundation for enlightened and effective politics of development aid will “unleash”, empower and protect the full potential of Africa.



Babaci‐Wilhite, Z., Geo‐JaJa, M. and Shizhou, L. (2013), "China's aid to Africa: competitor or alternative to the OECD aid architecture?", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 40 No. 8, pp. 729-743.

Download as .RIS



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.