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            FM rejects false claims on China's African loans

            By ZHANG YUNBI | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-01-13 07:49
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            Foreign Minister Qin Gang and Chairman of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat attend the completion ceremony of Africa CDC Headquarters building project in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Jan 11, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

            Foreign Minister Qin Gang denied on Wednesday allegations by some foreign politicians and media that China's loans to African countries are creating "debt traps".

            He made the remarks during a joint news conference with Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commission, at the body's headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

            Qin, who is on his first trip overseas as the country's top diplomat, labeled the claims "narrative traps" and groundless accusations.

            Of the G20 members, China has offered the most debt suspension to African countries and has signed deals or reached agreement with 19 of them on suspending debt, he said.

            President Xi Jinping announced in 2021 that "China is ready to channel to African countries $10 billion from its share of the International Monetary Fund's new allocation of Special Drawing Rights".

            Qin said, "Relevant works have achieved progress in phases".

            He cited a World Bank report that showed multilateral finance institutions and private creditors account for nearly three-quarters of Africa's total debt. "They could and should play a bigger role in the debt relief issue of Africa," Qin said.

            Observers said raising the "debt trap" hype again is not helpful to relieving the financial burden that the least-developed countries in Africa face, given the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, the global economic downturn and geopolitical conflicts.

            "The ultimate solution for resolving the debt issue of African countries is to push for their progress in development, poverty relief and achieving their economic potential," said He Wenping, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of West-Asian and African Studies.

            "China has done more than many Western countries in terms of creating job opportunities, making investment and building factories in African countries," she said.

            Hassan Khanenje, director of the HORN International Institute for Strategic Studies, told Turkiye's Anadolu Agency: "If you look at the extent and the degree of (China's) investment, even just starting with Ethiopia, many African countries have been extremely receptive to Chinese investment."

            Media claims of the creation of a "debt trap" in Africa have pointed to loans under the Belt and Road Initiative, after China signed cooperation deals with some African countries.

            Ren Lin, head of the Department of Global Governance at the CASS' Institute of World Economics and Politics, said some developed countries with ulterior motives have demonized BRI cooperation between China and partner countries, by claiming that building projects under the initiative leads to "debt traps".

            "The debt issues of those countries involved in the BRI should be attributed to other factors, such as unsettled ongoing issues, the impact of the global financial crisis, the stimulus packages of those countries themselves and excessive financing in financial markets," she said.

            In contrast with some Western countries pushing other nations' economies to the point of collapse, China has been earnest in suspending the debts of African countries within the G20 framework, she said.

            Asked by reporters about the second US-Africa leaders' summit held last month in Washington, Qin said, "Africa should be a big stage for international cooperation, not an arena for competition among major countries".

            Since the start of this century, China has built over 6,000 kilometers of railway, more than 6,000 km of roads, nearly 20 ports, and over 80 major power facilities in Africa, Qin said. "We are glad to see any country — no matter who it is — that is sincere in helping Africa achieve peace and development," he said.

            China is willing to embark on trilateral and multilateral cooperation with African countries to jointly make greater contributions to the revitalization of Africa, he added.

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