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The “Good vs. Bad” Framing of Chinese Development Finance

A picture taken on June 14, 2015 shows Chinese labourers working in Algiers at the construction site of the third largest mosque in the area and the largest in Africa. Algeria is building one of the world's largest mosques which officials say will serve as a buffer against radical Islam and crown the legacy of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The Djamaa El Djazair mosque is being built facing the picturesque bay of Algiers as part of a complex that will include a one-million book library, a Koranic school and a museum of Islamic art and history. STRINGER / AFP

Friday’s FT article by correspondent Steve Johnson on the merits of Chinese development financing provoked considerable discussion online this weekend about the key issues raised in the story and how the topic is framed in simple “good vs. bad” terms.

Johnson explored the different, less transparent approach to development finance that Beijing takes compared to traditional donors in the U.S. and Europe. One of the key issues that emerged is how much longer the western approach takes and how that is increasingly viewed as an impediment for African borrowers who often have political objectives tied to infrastructure projects and therefore appreciate the fast delivery of Chinese financing that comes with fewer bureaucratic obstacles.

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