The literature on the relationship between foreign aid and institutions has found that the effects of aid vary across different donor characteristics and delivery mechanisms. This article focuses on China's resource-related development projects, which have been considered controversial due to the relative lack of conditionality. By distinguishing between vertical and horizontal dimensions of political accountability, the study finds that China's resource-related projects are particularly detrimental to the accountability of recipient countries' horizontal (legislative and judicial) institutions. These projects are often delivered to resource-rich countries, in the form of packaging access to resources and infrastructure construction, to improve China's own energy access. Local officials may be tempted to weaken horizontal institutions so that the projects can be implemented quickly. Nevertheless, these projects have little effect on vertical accountability, as China has less intention and capacity to fundamentally restrain electoral competition in recipient countries.
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