(PNAFAN – NewsIn.Asia) Nairobi, May 19 (Xinhua) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent virtual trip to Africa turned out to be yet another political maneuver to smear China and undermine nascent Sino-African cooperation.
Using the same ploy inherited from his predecessors, Blinken touted the old cliché of the “Chinese debt trap,” attempting to trick the world through kindergarten math, which has been refuted by African officials and academics.
“If someone comes and says I’m going to invest a lot of money in your country, but it’s a loan, then that means you have a debt and you’ll have to pay it back someday and if that’s too much big and you can’t pay it back, so I’m going to own the asset in question, ”Blinken told alumni of the Young African Leaders Initiative in a virtual chat in late April, alluding to China’s loans and investments at across the continent.
Disregarding the real numbers that reflect the benefits of China-Africa cooperation, Blinken’s debt trap rhetoric is rife with logical errors and naive calculations.
“If we break down the external debt of African countries, multilateral financial institutions and commercial creditors hold more than three-quarters of the total, and therefore bear greater responsibility in debt relief,” the spokesperson said. Chinese Foreign Ministry Wang Wenbin at a regular press conference. end of February.
“Not a single African country has had debt difficulties because of its cooperation with China,” Wang said.
“When African countries have economic problems, China is always ready to find appropriate solutions through friendly consultations. We never put pressure on countries having difficulty repaying their debt, let alone ask them to sign imparity clauses, ”he said.
“Meanwhile, China attaches great importance to debt suspension and relief in Africa … We have signed debt relief agreements or reached consensus on debt relief with 16 African countries “Wang said.
“The Chinese ‘debt trap’ is a false claim, but it is true that some people sow discord between China and Africa with bad intentions. Anyone with an objective mind will come to a fair conclusion about this, ”he added.
Blinken’s unfounded accusation against China has drawn criticism from African experts.
“One thing that is very special about Chinese loans is sustainability. This whole asset takeover thing just doesn’t make sense, ”said Charles Onanaiju, director of the Nigerian Center for China Studies, describing Chinese loans as neither toxic nor threatening.
“The question of the ‘Chinese debt trap’ cannot arise here because we have not seen it,” said Zambian economist Kelvin Chisanga.
MYTHICAL DEBT TRAP
“Let me correct the impression that the debts are owed only to China. We have debts to a number of bilateral and multilateral partners and we treat them equally, ”Kenyan Cabinet Secretary at the National Treasury Ukur Yatani told media.
Some 30 percent of Kenya’s external debt comes from commercial banks, 30 percent from bilateral lenders and the remaining 40 percent from multilateral financiers, said Beatrice Matiri-Maisori, senior lecturer in economics at Riara University in Kenya. .
“We have a wide range of financial lenders in the country. So I would not say in any way that China is putting Kenya or any other African country in a debt trap, ”Matiri-Maisori told Xinhua.
Nigeria’s Debt Management Office (DMO) has ruled out any form of concern about Nigeria’s indebtedness to China, considering that Chinese loans are not only project-related but also concessional.
“These are all concessional loans. No reason to worry about them. They are all tied to a project, which Nigerians should be happy with, ”DMO Managing Director Patience Oniha told local channel ARISE NEWS.
Recent research from a China-Africa workshop at Johns Hopkins University found that Chinese banks are willing to restructure the terms of existing loans and have never actually foreclosed on any country’s assets.
Researchers documented 16 cases of debt restructuring worth US $ 7.5 billion in 10 African countries between 2000 and 2019, and found that China canceled accumulated arrears of at least 94 interest-free loans. amounting to over $ 3.4 billion.
Ethiopia-Djibouti railway built by the Chinese
China has played an important role in helping African countries manage their debts, according to the study.
TANGIBLE FRUITS FOR AFRICA
Flagship projects built with the support of China have promoted the prosperity and development of Africa by creating many jobs for local populations and ensuring their access to basic services such as water, electricity, transport and skills training.
“The funding provided by China is mainly used for development projects such as transport infrastructure, power lines and river dams, which are in line with Kenya’s national development agenda and aim to promote its development. national economy and improve the livelihoods of the people, ”said Cavince Adhere, international relations expert in Kenya.
With help from China, more than 6,000 km of railroads, 6,000 km of roads, nearly 20 ports and more than 80 large power plants have been built in Africa. China’s direct investment in Africa in 2019 increased 100-fold from 20 years ago, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.
As the COVID-19 pandemic caused the worst global economic crisis in decades, Chinese projects and investments have helped African countries weather the storm.
As the pandemic restricts the movement of people, the Chinese-built Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) connecting the Kenyan port city of Mombasa with the capital Nairobi continues to support the flow of goods essential to the economy.
Data from the Kenyan statistical authority KNBS showed that cargo transported through the SGR amounted to 4.42 million tonnes in 2020, up from 4.16 million tonnes in 2019 despite the pandemic.
In neighboring Ethiopia, Dejen Gezu is one of 34 new graduate drivers who are excited about their new career on the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway built in China. After a China-sponsored rail technology training program that spanned more than two years, Gezu and his colleagues are ready to embark on a promising journey.
At a graduation ceremony held on May 4, Ethiopia’s Transport Minister Dagmawit Moges said the young graduates will be able to serve the country with the knowledge and skills they have. learned from the Chinese, expressing the hope that Ethiopia will eventually have people who manage and fully operate the country’s rail system.
China-Africa cooperation still has wide possibilities to develop.
“For the first time in African history, we have a partner who is both willing and capable. What is needed is to meet the Chinese in the middle so that we can both do the long march, ”Onanaiju said.
“China itself has been a great beneficiary of international financial flows, which it has used very effectively and efficiently to modernize its economy. We can engage (with) their experience to develop our own framework for sustainable modernization, ”Onanaiju added.
(Photo / s: Xinhua)
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