Multilateral aid received by China from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria does not come at the expense of AIDS funding for sub-Saharan countries, two experts on China studies argue.
Drew Thompson, the director of China studies at the Washington-based Nixon Center, and Jia Ping, director of the Beijing-based Global Fund Watch, are responding to a recent opinion piece by former U.S. ambassador on global HIV/AIDS Jack Chow.
As reported by Devex, Chow said in his op-ed piece that China receives more health aid from the Global Fund than poor African countries that need it more. He said that instead of applying for Global Fund money, the country should instead become a donor to the multilateral fund.
“Undoubtedly, while China can and should commit more of its own resources to meeting domestic as well as global public health needs, U.S. development assistance, whether bilateral or through multilateral mechanisms, should not be seen as a zero-sum endeavor where one recipient benefits at the expense of another,” Thompson and Ping write in reaction.
The two add that Chow’s article overlooks how Global Fund dollars are beneficial to China and the rest of the world beyond the financial aspect. Thompson and Ping say that as an organization that awards funding based on quality of proposals, individual needs and accountable, transparent and inclusive government mechanisms, the Global Fund helps introduce important regulatory and political reforms to the countries it supports.
In China’s case, Global Fund dollars helped improve the country’s health system, which failed particularly during the 2002-2003 SARS crisis, and pave the way for important government reforms, including on that on the role of public participation in transparency, accountability and policymaking, the two say. They explain that the Global Fund’s engagement in the country helped encourage the government to open its doors to civil society.
“The Global Fund represents a dialogue between the Chinese government and international community, not simply a flow of aid money,” Thompson and Ping write. “The interaction provides a unique opportunity to promote the uptake of such universal values as transparency, accountability and inclusion through democratic processes.”