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Chinese development project puts AidData in international spotlight

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    Top story:  AidData's recent release of new findings about China's secretive overseas development finance program caught the attention of media outlets worldwide. It was the most read article on the BBC News site on the day of publication.  Submitted photo
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AidData, the international development research lab based at William & Mary’s Global Research Institute, made waves across the world with its release of new findings last week about China’s secretive overseas development finance program. 

AidData’s report, “Banking on the Belt and Road,” details how China’s spending patterns, debt levels and project implementation problems have changed over time. 

The project was a four-year effort by a team of AidData faculty, analysts and more than 130 student research assistants who helped compile a massive granular dataset that captures 13,427 projects across 165 countries worth $843 billion. 

The impact of these findings caught the attention of media outlets worldwide, starting with coverage from BBC News, The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times shortly after the release of the report. The coverage continued over the next several days by domestic outlets such as The Economist and CNBC

Brad Parks ’03, AidData’s executive director, did multiple television and radio interviews for BBC World News and BBC domestic TV broadcasts, BBC World Service radio, as well as for Al Jazeera English TV, Public Radio International and Turkish international television broadcaster TRT. 

International outlets such as French newspaper Le Monde and British newspaper The Guardian helped spread the news of AidData’s findings around the world, along with wire services like Japan’s Kyodo News, Agence France Presse and Reuters, which have news outlets worldwide. 

AidData’s findings were reported by outlets in many countries, including China, Japan, India, Germany, Russia, Italy, France and Bangladesh. 

BBC’s reports were particularly impactful. The research led BBC World News television and BBC World Service radio programs globally for several hours, was the most read article on the BBC News site on the day of publication, and the story has since been translated into more than a dozen languages for BBC audiences worldwide. 

In some cases the research resulted in calls for greater transparency and more public and policy debate, for example as detailed in this story in Dawn, Pakistan’s leading English-language newspaper.