Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)


International Relations


Amy Oakes

Committee Members

Dennis Smith

Daniel Runfola


In September 2018, Xi Jinping announced that BRI financing will not be spent on vanity projects. Despite and prior to this proclamation, using the AidData data set, I uncovered a vanity project phenomenon in Chinese development financing. Chinese financed vanity projects, or development projects that do not aid a country’s development needs, are present in 79 countries across the world, ranging from sports stadiums in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to community centers in the Pacific islands. In this thesis, I find that vanity projects are most likely to occur in fragile states with strong international political cooperation with China. This indicates that China uses these projects as a reward to its allies and to influence fragile states to continue cooperating with China.