Narrow-minded for Western media to view China as an IMF competitor
Published: Sep 12, 2022 11:00 PM Updated: Sep 12, 2022 10:53 PM
Illustration: Tang Tengfei/Global Times

Illustration: Tang Tengfei/Global Times

The US and some Western countries always wear tinted glasses to view China's financial support to other countries and regions with a Cold War and zero-sum game mindset, attempting to undermine China’s influence and provoke conflicts between China and other countries.

The Financial Times (FT) on Sunday published an article entitled “China emerges as IMF competitor with emergency loans to at-risk nations.” It claimed that “China has doled out tens of billions of dollars in secretive ‘emergency loans’ to countries at risk of financial crises in recent years, turning Beijing into a formidable competitor of the Western-led IMF.”

Such rhetoric doesn’t hold water. It just wants to wage another wave of public opinion attacks on China. As a responsible power, it’s appropriate for China to provide financial assistance in a timely manner to some developing countries to help them pull through trouble. It can help resolve their problems and stabilize regional and global economic order. 

In addition, China's financial assistance to developing countries is not in conflict with that of the IMF. Instead, the two can be complementary, jointly promoting the common development of the entire international community for developing countries, experts noted. It is narrow-minded to say that China is “a formidable competitor of the Western-led IMF.”

The reason why Western media outlets such as FT made such noise is because the West is anxious that Chinese financial aid will affect Western attempts to transform target countries according to the West’s demands. Furthermore, they’re concerned that China's ramping up foreign aid will increase its regional and global influence as well as its discourse power, which will threaten the hegemony of the US and the West, said an international relations scholar who requested anonymity.

Theoretically, the IMF should be a crucial stabilizer of the global financial system. Given the current global financial system, and the experience of the financial crisis of 1997-98, to avoid the occurrence and spread of the financial crisis should be one of the priorities of global financial institutions. When some countries encounter financial crises, these institutions such as the IMF should take immediate measures as a response.

But the IMF's practices in this regard are far from being sufficient. “This international financial institution led by the West has become a robbery group that fish in troubled waters,” according to Shen Yi, a professor at Fudan University. “When some developing countries are in trouble, as a condition of providing financial aid, the IMF requests these countries to fulfill some requirements which they would not agree to do at other times, in a bid to serve the West’s interests.”

China is also a member of the IMF, and the way China provides financial assistance to these countries is in line with international rules and criteria. When the IMF is absent in preventing the financial troubles of some countries from spreading wider, China’s economic assistance to these countries is a vital support to stabilize international financial order. 

The FT report cited Gabriel Sterne, a former senior IMF economist now at Oxford Economics, saying that “The suspicion is that countries seek out the loan to avoid going to the IMF.” It is widely known that the IMF is unpopular in many countries.

Chinese financial aid is indeed more appealing to developing countries than assistance from the Western-led IMF. China’s assistance to other countries is sincere with no political strings attached, and it does not exploit opportunity as an excuse to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. China’s financial aid is based on actual needs of these countries when they encounter difficulties. The repayment method matches the strength and capabilities of countries seeking loans. This is fundamentally different from what the IMF does to these countries, said Shen.

FT’s one-sided claim will not affect China's attractiveness among these developing countries. As long as China's aid continues helping in lifting local economies, these developing countries, especially those with strong development aspirations but encountering huge financial difficulties, will definitely be willing to accept Chinese aid in spite of such noise, Chen Youjun, a professor at Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, told the Global Times.