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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

U.S. Assistance Programs in China

Thomas Lum
Specialist in Asian Affairs

This report examines U.S. foreign assistance activities in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), including U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) programming, foreign operations appropriations, policy history, and legislative background. International programs supported by U.S. departments and agencies other than the Department of State and USAID are not covered in this report.

U.S. foreign assistance efforts in the PRC aim to promote human rights, democracy, the rule of law, and environmental conservation in China and Tibet and to support Tibetan livelihoods and culture. The United States Congress has played a leading role in initiating programs and determining funding levels for these objectives. Congressionally mandated rule of law, civil society, public participation, and related programs together constitute an important component of U.S. human rights policy towards China. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States is the largest provider of “government and civil society” programming among major bilateral foreign aid donors.

During the past decade, the U.S. Department of State and USAID have administered a growing number and range of programs in China. Between 2001 and 2010, the United States government authorized or made available nearly $275 million for Department of State foreign assistance efforts in the PRC, of which $229 million was devoted to human rights, democracy, rule of law, and related activities, Tibetan communities, and the environment. U.S. program areas include the following: promoting the rule of law, civil society, and democratic norms and institutions; training legal professionals; building the capacity of judicial institutions; reforming the criminal justice system; supporting sustainable livelihoods and cultural preservation in Tibetan communities; protecting the environment; and improving the prevention, care, and treatment of HIV/AIDS in China. The direct recipients of State Department and USAID grants have been predominantly U.S.-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and universities. Some Chinese NGOs, universities, and government entities have participated in, collaborated with, or indirectly benefited from U.S. programs and foreign aid grantees.

Some observers have debated the efficacy of U.S. foreign assistance efforts in China. Some policy analysts argue that U.S. democracy, rule of law, and related programs have had little effect in China due to political constraints and restrictions on civil society imposed by the PRC government. Furthermore, some policy makers contend that the United States should not provide assistance to a country, like China, that has significant foreign aid resources of its own. Other observers argue that U.S. assistance activities in China have helped to build social and legal foundations for political change and bolster reform-minded officials in the PRC government. Some experts also propound that U.S. programs have nurtured relationships among governmental and non-governmental actors and educational institutions in the United States and the PRC, which have helped to develop common understandings about democratic norms and principles.

Date of Report: April 22, 2011
Number of Pages: 15
Order Number: RS22663
Price: $29.95

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North Korea: Legislative Basis for U.S. Economic Sanctions

Dianne E. Rennack
Specialist in Foreign Policy Legislation

U.S. economic sanctions imposed on North Korea are instigated by that country’s activities related to weapons proliferation; regional disruptions; terrorism; narcotics trafficking; undemocratic governance; and illicit activities in international markets, including money laundering, counterfeiting of goods and currency, and bulk cash smuggling. The sanctions have the following consequences for U.S.-North Korea relations: 
  • Trade is minimal and mostly limited to food, medicine, and other humanitarianrelated goods. North Korea has no advantageous trade status and is outright denied certain goods—including luxury goods—and trade financing, primarily due to its proliferation activities. The Department of Commerce places North Korea in the two most restricted country groups for exports; imports require a license from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control; using a North Korea-flagged vessel for any transaction is prohibited. 
  • Foreign aid is minimal and mostly limited to refugees fleeing North Korea; broadcasting into the country; nongovernmental organization programs dedicated to democracy promotion, human rights, and governance; emergency food aid; and aid related to disabling and dismantling the country’s nuclear weapons program. By law, U.S. representatives in the international financial institutions (IFI) are required to vote against any support for North Korea due to its nuclear weapons ambitions. Human rights and environmental activities would also likely result in U.S. objections to North Korea’s participation in the IFI.
  • Arms sales and arms transfers are fully denied. 
  • Assets are blocked for certain individuals and entities, should such assets come under U.S. jurisdiction. 
Since the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, the United States had imposed fairly comprehensive economic, diplomatic, and political restrictions on North Korea. In 1999, however, President Clinton announced he would lift many restrictions on U.S. exports to and imports from North Korea in areas other than those controlled for national security concerns; the Departments of Commerce, Treasury, and Transportation issued new regulations a year later that implemented the new policy. On June 26, 2008, President George W. Bush removed restrictions based on authorities in the Trading With the Enemy Act and the terrorism designation, replacing them with more circumscribed economic restrictions related to proliferation concerns.

The U.S. sanctions in place are a result both of requirements incorporated into U.S. law by Congress and decisions made in the executive branch to exercise discretionary authorities. Though the President, in accordance with the Constitution, leads the way in conducting foreign policy, Congress holds substantial power to shape foreign policy by authorizing and funding programs, advising on appointments, and specifically defining the terms of engagement in accordance with U.S. political and strategic interests. This report presents the legislative basis for U.S. sanctions policy toward North Korea. These sanctions are a critical tenet of the larger bilateral relationship, and this report highlights Congress’s role and responsibility in determining the nature of U.S.-North Korea relations. This report focuses on U.S. law and does not address the impact or effectiveness of the sanctions; several other reports available from CRS address these matters. See Appendix A for a selected list of other CRS products relating to U.S.-North Korea relations.

Date of Report: April 25, 2011
Number of Pages: 32
Order Number: R41438
Price: $29.95

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