A friend recently jumped on me with the question, "Why are we sending foreign aid to China?" She had apparently seen a report on FoxNews about this and was understandably indignant. (I don't as a rule watch the FNC due both to lack of time and interest.) I responded to her with skepticism, suggesting the report must be incorrect based on my long-standing plausibility criteria concerning news reports. It made no sense for us to send monetary aid to a nation to whom we owe trillions of dollars. I said I would check it out and get back to her.
Well, I did, and lo and behold, the report is true. According to Wikipedia, we supplied $1.2 billion in direct and indirect aid to the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 2003. The numbers are a bit confusing because some of that "indirect" aid involves contributions to UN programs that aid China and support for a Peace Corps operation there. (What are they doing, teaching them to grow rice?) Direct monetary aid is considerably less, with $275 million sent since 2001, $65 million in 2009. Some of this money goes to expanding Internet coverage. That's right, that's the thing the PRC government shuts down every time something embarrassing happens.
While this is not much in comparison to President Obama's budget deficit, one has to question why we are doing this at all. It's not as though they're a third world nation in need of sustenance. Our esteemed secretary of State, Mrs. Bill Clinton, aka Hillary Rodham, justifies this expenditure of scarce U.S. money as providing us with "influence". Oh good! That explains our great success in influencing the Chinese government to improve its human rights performance.
Other government spokespersons have claimed this is a holdover from previous government policy. O.K., then I wonder how many more of these "holdovers" are sitting out there fleecing the American taxpayer?
Perhaps in the interest of fairness. I should put this in context. Apparently, total foreign aid to China from all countries, specifically Japan, England, France and Germany plus us, was $2.65 billion. I guess we're getting off cheap. Apparently we have no corner on stupidity.
I called the dear lady and apologized for my skepticism. It made her day.