Over the last decade, China has emerged as one of the largest suppliers of international development finance, with a large and growing overseas development budget. Yet China does not release detailed information about the “where, what, how, and to whom” of its development aid. This presents an obstacle for policy makers, practitioners, and analysts who seek to understand the distribution and impact of Chinese development finance. Since 2013, AidData has led an ambitious effort to develop an open source data collection methodology called Tracking Underreported Financial Flows (TUFF), and maintain a publicly available database of Chinese development projects around the world. AidData has also teamed up with a group of economists and political scientists from leading universities around the world to conduct cutting-edge research with this database, examining differences and similarities in the levels, priorities, and consequences of Chinese and American development finance. On March 13, 2017, Dr. Brad Parks, executive director of AidData and a faculty member at the College of William and Mary, discussed the organization’s work with the National Committee at an event in New York City. Drawing on advanced techniques that include using nighttime light and deforestation data from high-resolution satellite imagery, Dr. Parks presented new findings on the intended economic development impacts and the unintended environmental impacts of Chinese development projects.
Brad Parks is AidData’s executive director and a research faculty member at the College of William and Mary’s Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations. His research focuses on the cross-national and sub-national distribution and impact of international development finance, and the design and implementation of policy and institutional reforms in low-income and middle-income countries. His publications include Greening Aid?, Understanding the Environmental Impact of Development Assistance (Oxford University Press, 2008) and A Climate of Injustice: Global Inequality, North-South Politics, and Climate Policy (MIT Press, 2006). He is currently involved in several empirical studies of the upstream motivations for, and downstream effects of, Chinese development finance. His research in this area has been published in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, the Journal of Development Studies, China Economic Quarterly, and the National Interest. From 2005 to 2010, Dr. Parks was part of the initial team that set up the U.S. Government's Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). As acting director of Threshold Programs at the MCC, he oversaw the implementation of a $35 million anti-corruption and judicial reform project in Indonesia and a $21 million customs and tax reform project in the Philippines. Dr. Parks holds a Ph.D. in international relations and an M.Sc. in development management from the London School of Economics and Political Science.