China’s and Japan’s Foreign Aid Policies vis-à-vis Lusophone Africa

Pedro Miguel Amakasu Raposo de Medeiros Carvalho


This article compares the evolution of China’s and Japan’s foreign policies to Lusophone Africa, focusing on the period post-2000. The lack of analysis on Beijing’s and Tokyo’s respective aid policies towards Portuguese-speaking African countries (Países Africanos de Língua Oficial Portuguesa, PALOP) makes this study relevant. Arguably, Japan’s development “edge” over China in terms of the “aid model” approach towards PALOP countries is under threat. This raises questions about China’s changing pattern of aid, characterised by an increasing amount of “soft” aid towards PALOP states outside of trade and investment relations, which is much in line with Japan’s aid philosophy and, according to observers, less neocolonialist than Japan’s previous aid practices. This paper asks which model of cooperation is morally better and which is more effective, as both donors have interests in PALOP countries beyond development assistance. It finds complementarities in the two countries’ aid allocation to PALOP states, such as poverty eradication given the sectoral diversity of Chinese aid, and the empowerment of local communities fostered by Japanese aid’s emphasis on grassroots and human-security projects.

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