Chinese Ambassador rebukes claims of 'debt trap' in Africa
China hits back at the claims of a debt trap in Africa, stressing that the continent could be a platform for international cooperation.
The Chinese Ambassador to the United States rebuffed accusations on Tuesday that China is setting up a "debt trap" in Africa, saying that rather than serving as a "battlefield where major powers battle it out for geopolitical advantage," Africa should serve as a platform for international cooperation.
The Ambassador from China, Qin Gang, made his comments on the eve of a conference in Washington, DC, that will bring together the leaders of 49 African countries and the African Union.
"China's investment and financing assistance to Africa is not a trap, it's a benefit," Qin said during a fireside chat, part of a series of discussions hosted by Semafor to warm up for the US-Africa Summit scheduled for Tuesday through Thursday. Semafor is a US news startup launched just earlier this year.
"Over the past decades, China has provided loans to help Africa with economic and social development. Construction works are everywhere in Africa," Qin said. "You can see hospitals, highways, airports, stadiums. Obviously, there is no such trap. It is not a plot. It is transparent, it is sincere."
Citing a report in July by the British charity organization Debt Justice, Qin said African nations owe three times as much to Western private lenders than they do to China, and the interest rates on private loans are twice as high.
Those findings, Qin said, are proof that "China is not the biggest creditor of African debts," and that "the debt owed to China is only a small part."
Speaking on the Group of 20's Debt Service Suspension Initiative, Qin noted that China is a key partner in it and has suspended the most debt service payments of any G20 country. "We call on all other creditors, multinational Internet institutions and private lenders to take active actions to reduce the debt burden of African countries in the principle of fair burden sharing and common actions," he said.
The envoy expressed his desire for Washington to "come up with more tangible and viable measures" at the upcoming US-Africa Summit in order to support the growth and prosperity of the African continent.
In order for China and the United States to work together and fulfill their shared responsibilities as major nations and permanent members of the UN Security Council, Qin urged both countries to cooperate. By doing so, the world's two largest economies could work together to advance peace, security, and prosperity in Africa.
The Ambassador cited a few instances of China-US collaborations aimed at improving the living conditions of Africans and advancing their economic and commercial ties with other regions of the world.
Qin noted that a textile industrial park created as a result of trilateral cooperation between China, the United States, and Ethiopia has proven to be a success story, increasing the export of clothing from the east African country to Europe and North America, in addition to helping the Liberian people fight the Ebola epidemic together in 2015.
"We need to extend, broaden our vision and expand our cooperation in Africa," the Ambassador said of the United States and China. "This is one of the very interesting areas for the two countries to work on."