The Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has lifted its freeze on aid to China despite a dispute over alleged corruption and misuse of the funding. The Fund said it took the decision in order to ensure that its aid work in China goes on while efforts to resolve the dispute continue.

The Fund blocked a $283 million grant to the Chinese AIDS program in November following the discovery that Chinese government agencies had been channeling an insufficient share to community and grassroots groups. A backlash ensued from the donor community regarding the lack of transparency and suspicions of corruption amongst the hundreds of countries that receive this kind of funding worldwide.

Global Fund spokesperson Jon Liden said (August 25) that “China and The Global Fund will continue to work closely together to tighten fiduciary controls and ensure that programs are as effective as possible in combating the three diseases.” The resumed aid means that China will receive grants worth $300 million to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis particularly among prostitutes and drug users.

The move does not come without its critics, however. The President of the Los-Angeles based AIDS Healthcare foundation, the largest provider of HIV/AIDS healthcare in the US, Michael Weinstein remarked, “The decision by the Global Fund to restore funding to China is irresponsible and will likely undermine the credibility of the Fund.”

In fact, the resumption of funding to China has been included in the larger debate in the international donor community regarding whether China should be receiving foreign aid at all in light of its decade-long economic boom and resulting relative prosperity.

“At a time of economic crisis, when contributions to the Fund are decreasing, giving money to China makes no sense,” continued Linden, “The mandate of the Global Fund is to (help) support countries to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria that cannot afford to do it themselves. Giving precious monies to a country that spends so lavishly on public spectacles like the Shanghai Expo and the Olympics deprives desperately poor countries of what they need to control these infectious diseases.”