China is helping to build a spanking new home for the President and Foreign Ministry of East Timor, but apparently not everyone is happy. The Timorese workers Al-Jazeera interviewed say they are paid only $3 per day while their Chinese counterparts are paid $36. This works out to about RMB7,560 monthly according to our calculations — a ridiculous figure even for “expatriate” construction workers. Al-Jazeera then goes on to lambast China for not delivering its aid in a way that benefits the average Timorese citizen, suggesting that China is in it all for Timor’s oil as well as its potential multi-million dollar fishing industry — old tired arguments that we’re getting tired of hearing.
We’d love to hear from the reporter Hannah Belcher which country she’d like to point out as a paragon of virtue when it comes to foreign aid policy. China really does get the short end of the stick sometimes. It gets blamed when it tries to engage poorer nations like East Timor (even when its intentions may be less than altruistic). It gets blamed for not doing enough in Darfur and Myanmar. One wonders what China will be accused of the day it decides to really do something in those places.