Has China embraced global poverty reduction? To what extent has it done so? China faces three paradoxes in trying to alleviate poverty: first, the country is on the whole getting richer, becoming one of the largest economies in the world, yet huge pockets of extreme poverty exist in the country. Second, it wants to be taken seriously as a responsible member of the international community. It would therefore like to be treated as a normal aid giver helping the poor in the developing world. Yet its own people are crying out loud for better social services at home. Third, while it wants to be respected by others in the world, it has been accused by other countries of ignoring, if not abusing, human rights in the Third World in its relentless search for natural resources, trade and investments. This paper aims to unravel these paradoxes by examining China’s foreign aid and its adherence or otherwise to the UN Millennium Development Goals. In so doing, the paper assesses China’s unilateral approach as well as its multilateral approach to poverty alleviation. It argues that China’s overall approach has become more multilateral in nature but the change has been slow and incremental. Its influence in global poverty reduction, though increasing, is still limited.
China’s need to ensure food sufficiency for its people is nothing new. What is new is the country’s recent active search for food from around the world, including small states in Africa and Latin America. The country has begun to acquire food of a high quality, in competition with other countries. China can make use of its politico-economic power to influence the behaviour of others to achieve food security, thereby highlighting a puzzling question: How does China balance its national interests against its global responsibility? China competes with other countries for a steady supply of food at an affordable price, while at the same time it wants to be seen as a peaceful country and a responsible member of the international community. As the largest developing country in the world, how does China see its role in the global management of food security, and how do others see China in this role? In addressing these questions, this paper argues that China begins to shoulder greater responsibility globally in this area, based on its bilateral and multilateral engagements, especially with small states, in a win-win way. The paper concludes that China has to do more to allay the fears of the outside world and to clear the suspicions harboured by others about its intentions and behaviour, a lesson which carries wide implications for China’s global governance in other issue areas.