Winning the influence war with China: Maximize foreign aid for strategic competition


Competition with China is playing out not only in the sea lanes of the Indo-Pacific but in the parliaments, board rooms, and even local councils of developing nations. Military strength is obviously necessary but not sufficient for the free world to prevail in this new great power contest, note analysts Patrick W. Quirk and Caitlin Dearing Scott.

Foreign aid advances America’s economic interests by creating new markets for American businesses and trade, they write for the National Interest:

Foreign aid also helps strengthen democracies around the world—creating more stable and reliable partners and allies. A study of U.S. foreign assistance focused on democracy promotion programs conducted between 1990 and 2003 found that these initiatives had “clear and consistent impacts” on their overall democratization. And despite a global democratic downturn from 2012 to 2022, eight countries that were turning toward autocracy were able to reverse course and regain their democratic momentum thanks in large part to international democracy support. 

If the U.S. government is serious about countering the People’s Republic of China and creating a safer, more democratic world, it must act urgently to align foreign assistance with American grand strategy, add Quirk and Scott, authors of the Atlantic Council Report Maximizing US Foreign Aid for Strategic Competition.

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