7. “No strings attached investment”

Origins and use:

This phrase was used by President Xi Jinping during his first official visit to Africa in 2013. His announcement offering “no strings” aid to African countries was intended to mark a departure from the conditions imposed by Western countries and international lenders, such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. “China will continue to offer, as always, necessary assistance to Africa with no political strings attached,” Xi said.


Implications for human rights

Western countries and international lending institutions often impose a number of conditions in exchange for foreign aid, trade deals and loans as an incentive for recipient countries to strengthen human rights, principles of governance, labour laws and other issues relating to the welfare of populations.

Without greater transparency of the investment deals made by China, it is difficult to assess whether the “five nos” are actually followed in practice. Large or multiple loans, particularly to countries that would find it difficult to access funding from other international lenders, create financial dependence that can then be leveraged for political favours, such as support for China’s positions in international forums, countering criticism of China’s human rights record, or an expectation that recipient states self-censor in their remarks on China.