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.
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