‘Debt trap’ myth a US ploy to trap Africa

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By Liu Zhongwei

Some Western media outlets have been claiming that China will “take over” large-scale infrastructure facilities such as airports and ports in some African countries if those countries’ governments fail to repay China’s loans. Some Western officials and biased international organizations allege that China is engaged in “neocolonialism” in Africa and has been plundering African resources.

Those Western media and officials claim China has used loans to increase the debts of African countries to such levels that they cannot repay them, in order to lay a “debt trap” for African countries. And after the African countries fail to repay the debts, China will seize the properties of those countries. They also claim that China has been dumping goods in and interfering in the internal affairs of African countries.

Needless to say such claims are utter nonsense. China has not “confiscated” any project in or assets of an African country following the latter’s failure to repay a loan. On the contrary, China supports and will continue to help African countries to increase their independent development capacity.

In fact, China’s investments in Africa have been a welcome source of funds for African countries as they help them to achieve their economic development goals. According to the African Development Bank, Africa’s infrastructure sector requires $130-170 billion of financing per year. And China’s investments have provided part of that.

By the end of 2020, more than 3,500 Chinese companies were operating in Africa with a direct investment stock of $43 billion, which has helped African countries build industries, create more jobs, and improve people’s livelihoods.

Also, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, China has helped African countries to address their debt problem by reducing their debts. And following the G20 initiative, it has suspended debt repayment by the poorest African countries. Among all the G20 members, China has mitigated Africa’s debt most aggressively by, among other things, signing agreements or reaching a consensus with 19 African countries on the suspension of debt repayment, and working with other countries to implement the “Common Framework for Debt Treatments Beyond the Debt Service Suspension Initiative”.

In African countries where the pandemic situation is particularly severe, China has provided support through debt relief. It exempted heavily indebted poor countries, landlocked developing countries, and small island nations in Africa from paying unpaid interest-free intergovernmental loans due by the end of 2018.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, China has exempted 15 African countries from repaying interest-free loans due by the end of 2020. At the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, President Xi Jinping announced that, in order to reduce African countries’ burden and help them realize their development goals, China will exempt least-developed African countries from repaying interest-free Chinese government loans by the end of 2021.

China is also willing to channel $10 billion to African countries from its share of the International Monetary Fund’s new Special Drawing Rights allocation.

That the US and Western countries have been hyping up the “debt trap” myth and fabricating infrastructure “take-over” stories reflect their desperation to smear China and China’s increasing influence in Africa.

The African people are the best suited to judge whether China’s investments have created a “debt trap” for the African countries. Referring to the US attack on Chinese investments, African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said African countries are mature enough to judge whether cooperation with China will benefit the African people, implying that Africa does not need outsiders to make irresponsible remarks on Sino-African cooperation.

Similarly, when Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was asked by a CNN host to talk about China’s loans and Kenya’s “debt encirclement”, he said Kenya has a “healthy mix of debt” because apart from China, Japan, the US and many other economies have also extended loans to Kenya to help it achieve its objectives.

-The Daily Mail-China Daily News Exchange Item