According to this video, "China Just Lost the Space Race!",

China is a so called "developing country" which has for decades been receiving billions of dollars of foreign aid and special trade status in the World Trade Organization because it's just a poor developing country.

Is it true that China receives "billions of dollars of foreign aid and special trade status in the World Trade Organization".

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    has […] been receiving (claim in video) does not match receives (claim from you).
    – pipe
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 19:46
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    @pipe that's not my reading. "has been receiving" is present perfect continuous: "The present perfect continuous tense (also known as the present perfect progressive tense) shows that something started in the past and is continuing at the present time. The present perfect continuous is formed using the construction has/have been + the present participle (root + -ing)." Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 20:14
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    It isn't a static situation. You might like to read The UK’s aid engagement with China. Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 20:55
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    The WTO as such doesn't give aid to anyone. It's not a charitable organization. China's status is easy to confirm and to me well known, so the question seems a bit hollow. Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 21:09
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    @Fizz you've thought ever question I've ever asked was "a bit hollow," yet you keep coming back. =( We need better mechanisms to handle this. Plenty of contributions if mine aren't your cup of tea. Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 21:32

2 Answers 2


As I see nothing better has been posted regarding (the fairly ambiguous--to me- claim on) aid, according to the World Bank (which relies on OECD data for this), China has been a net recipient of aid until 2010, but a net contributor thereafter. Cumulatively, the did get more aid than they disbursed since 1980, when that dataset stars.

enter image description here

"Make of this what you will" as the saying goes, i.e. decide for yourself if this makes the OP quote statement part regarding aid true or false.

The aid in the graph above has almost nothing to do with the WTO though, which China joined in 2001.

By the way, it's not always straightforward, especially in more recent times, to classify Western aid to China. As Germany has been one of the larger such contributors, one paper discussing that says:

German official development assistance to China, however, is not “traditional aid” in the sense of supporting poverty reduction through public funds but rather consists of promotional loans (Förderkredite) and technical cooperation. [...]

Germany recorded a flow of 432 million euros (net) worth of official development assistance (ODA) to China in 2019, making China the third-largest recipient of German ODA.

I could not find total gross aid data flowing to China yet, but it is somewhat plausible it could still reach a billion dollars per year, given what Germany gives (i.e. around half that). Especially considering e.g. the net figures from the WB are bounded from below by -$1 bn for recent years, but the gross aid sent out by China (to Africa etc.) is given as $5.9 bn for 2019 by a Japanese source (JICA). Honestly there are probably serious issues with cross checking such data between sources due to different methodologies for counting aid. (The Japanese source counts concessional and interest free loans as aid. It says that in doing so it's following the OECD post-2019 methodology. This change was also mentioned in the previous paper on Germany.)

For Aid type: "ODA Total, Gross disbusements" and recepient "China (People's Republic of)"; the stats.OECD.org gives these figures

enter image description here

So it's still true that China receives over a billion dollars in aid per year on that (gross) measure, by 2020 at least.

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    As always after throwing shade at every question that is very likely to become a HNQ and famous (because I ask good questions), you come along later with an exceptionally good answer. I think this "China has been a net recipient of aid until 2010, but a net contributor thereafter. " and this "The aid in the graph above has almost nothing to do with the WTO though, which China joined in 2001." sufficiently answer the question. Calling an interest free loan "aid" is too skewed a definition for me. Commented Jul 29, 2022 at 1:51
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    Also this nuance that you brought up in the comments, as shown here, isn't applicable at all. As the present perfect requires it to continue into the future. If China didn't join the WTO until 2001 and it was a only an aid recipient until 2010 then when it joined the WTO the aid was already well past the peak from 1980-2008. So you could probably say, "ever since China joined the WTO they've been a giving more in aid then receiving, though not through the WTO since the WTO doesn't do that." That makes the above comment almost maximally false. Commented Jul 29, 2022 at 1:57
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    Please stop the personal attacks on Fizz. If you have an issue, flag him and take your complaints to the moderators. Just FYI, looking at your 12 most recent questions, I see Fizz commenting to you on only 3 of them. He did comment on a fourth one, but it was to someone else. I do not see Fizz "throwing shade at every question" you have asked.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Jul 29, 2022 at 11:59
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    @CGCampbell usually the mods delete the comments. But it's not a personal attack. I directly quoted him here, and there. You can't just call the question a "bit hollow" and only "broad and vague claims" and then answer only after it becomes popular. I'm allowed to give feedback in comments. My feedback is that this is an exceptional answer and you should reflect on why you feel the need to be hard on the question when without changing it you have sufficient information and understanding to answer it. Constructive feedback is not a "personal attack." Commented Jul 29, 2022 at 15:59

I want to provide a partial answer, with a "kind of, but not directly" to summarize. This is more to provide the resources and evidence I've found so hopefully this can be answered definitively by another user. (or maybe myself at a later date)

First and foremost, China is the beneficiary of preferential trade agreements, while not a direct form of aid, this alone can relate to billions of dollars a year less paid to import their products to the countries who provide said preferential trade agreement.

It's also important to explore the counterpoint noted by Fizz in the comments on the question, since 2010 China has introduced their own preferential trade agreements (available at same link as above, under "provider of"). This lists 44 LDCs or, least developed countries, for which China waives or drastically reduces import fees from these nations, also providing "billions in aid" "through the WTO". For lack of better phrasing.

Now on to actual aid. That's hard. The WTO technically does not distribute aid themselves:

Most Aid-for-Trade is disbursed bilaterally by donors or through multilateral and regional finance and development organisations, such as the World Bank and the regional development banks.

So while:

It includes technical assistance — helping countries to develop trade strategies, negotiate more effectively, and implement outcomes. Infrastructure — building the roads, ports, and telecommunications that link domestic and global markets. Productive capacity — investing in industries and sectors so countries can diversify exports and build on comparative advantages. And adjustment assistance — helping with the costs associated with tariff reductions, preference erosion, or declining terms of trade.

It's important to note that:

[T]he WTO can not deliver development assistance. It is not a development agency, and has no intention of becoming one. [Their] core mandate is — and must remain — setting trade rules.

Back to "[m]ost Aid-for-Trade is disbursed bilaterally by donors or through multilateral and regional finance and development organisations."; the most recently completed (2021) Aid-for-Trade Stocktaking Event's report show's

The IMF's role in economic recovery is central in advising countries to move swiftly to policies that support workers and businesses. The fund has lent 107 billion USD to low-income and commodity-dependent economies.

Being a commodity-dependent economy implies some portion of those IMF funds were provided to China, and in some ways facilitated by the WTO - it is not aid directly from the WTO.

For more information this year's, ongoing at time of writing, Aid-for-Trade Stocktaking Event.

  • What is the source of the preferential trade agreements mentioned? Are the forced onto countries by the WTO or are the negotiated by the states in question directly? The last paragraph that says "implies some portion of those IMF funds" seems particularly weak.
    – Jontia
    Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 7:46
  • @Jonita if you can provide more details on either point, please do. As stated in my first paragraph I consider this a partial answer to share the information I do have, and hopefully be improved to a definitive answer. I agree the last paragraph is weak. I include it because even if China is receiving the billions in aid mentioned, the funds aren't coming directly from the WTO. If you have a source about the 2021 disbursement of that IMF aid, ideally with per country or region amounts, I'm happy to add it to the answer
    – TCooper
    Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 9:30
  • Maybe instead of focusing on "aid", how about "special trade status"?
    – Barmar
    Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 14:44

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