The Latecomer’s Rise: Policy Banks and the Globalization of China’s Development Finance. Cornell University Press, 2024.





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In The Latecomer’s Rise, Muyang Chen reveals the nature and impact of a rapidly growing form of international lending: Chinese development finance.

Over the past few decades, China has become the world’s largest provider of bilateral development finance. Through its two national policy banks, the China Development Bank (CDB) and the Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim), it has funded infrastructure and industrial projects in numerous emerging markets and developing countries. Yet this very surge and magnitude of capital has raised questions about the characteristics of Chinese bilateral lending and its repercussions on the international order.

Drawing on a variety of novel Chinese primary sources, including interviews and official bank documents, Chen pinpoints the distinctiveness of Chinese bilateral development finance, explains its origins, and analyzes its effects. She compares Chinese policy banks with their foreign counterparts to show that the CDB and China Exim, while state-supported, are in fact also market-oriented—they are as much government organs as they are profit-driven financial agencies that serve both state and firms’ interests. This approach, which emerged out of China’s particular economic history, suggests that Chinese overseas lending is not merely a tool of economic statecraft that challenges Western-led economic regimes. Instead, China’s responses to extant rules, norms, and practices across given issue areas have varied between contestation and convergence.

Rich with empirical detail and penetrating insights, The Latecomer’s Rise demystifies the little-known workings of Chinese development finance to revise our conceptions of China’s role in the international financial system.

“A landmark study. The Latecomer’s Rise offers a deep level of understanding of Chinese banking developments, the relationship between domestic changes and international activities of China’s policy banks, and the challenges facing China, its borrowers, and its global competitors. This book will be a vital reference for anyone concerned with China’s global banking.”

—— Deborah Brautigam, Johns Hopkins University

China’s overseas development banks have surged onto the global scene, filling infrastructure gaps, enabling growth, and fostering a new wave of South-South cooperation. Drawing on detailed, embedded research, The Latecomer’s Rise offers the first empirical-based understanding of these banks that places them in comparative perspective and sheds light on their origins as well as the trajectory of Chinese development finance. Essential reading for those interested in state-market relations and the role of the state in China’s rise.

—— Kevin Gallagher, Boston University

Challenging the dominant paradigm of zero-sum Chinese conflict with the existing rules-based international economic system, The Latecomer’s Rise offers valuable insights on China’s approach to development finance, especially through the experience of Beijing’s large, powerful policy banks.

—— Robert B. Zoellick, former President of the World Bank and US Trade Representative