Since Deng Xiaoping’s administration launched its Reform and Opening Up policies in the late 1970s, China has integrated hundreds of millions of its citizens into the global economy, resulting in poverty alleviation on an unprecedented scale. This is in no small part due to sustained investment in both physical and social infrastructure. By focusing on upgrading its water, energy, transport and telecommunications systems, China has shown an intrinsic understanding of an indispensable developmental building block.
Expanding on its domestic successes, China has since been replicating this approach in the developing world, filling a public good vacuum that global development institutions, namely the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, have not tackled with the necessary intensity. In the process, China has been underwriting global poverty reduction in steel and cement; gaining not only access to the developing world’s resources and markets, but also stronger partnerships on many levels. Two regions – Central Asia and especially Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) – stand out for the breadth and depth of Chinese involvement. Is China helping to pave their path to modernity?