Kyrgyzstan debunks rumors around Chinese loans

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/1/11 14:08:40

Kyrgy land won't be given to China to repay debts, said Kubatbek Boronov, the first deputy prime minister of Kyrgyzstan, in response to rising concern over the country's debt issues. 

Boronov said at Wednesday's media conference in the Government House that recently some people were intentionally spreading rumors on social media that Kyrgyzstan will repay its debt to China by giving away land. 

"It is not true. Those who want to destabilize the situation say such things. We do not have such terms in the agreement. And I'll say with confidence that when the peak of loan repayment comes, we will be able to pay and return all liabilities on loans," he said according to Kabar News Agency. 

Prior to Boronov's statement, an anti-Chinese rally took place in the capital of Kyrgyzstan that drew attention in neighboring countries. 

According to Russia's Kommersant, around 100 to 200 Kyrgyz people joined the protest in the central square of Bishkek on Monday shouting slogans against China. They demanded the government repay the Chinese loans and crack down on "illegal immigrants" from China. They claimed that some Chinese people are marrying Kyrgyz citizens to acquire citizenship so that they can work and enjoy long-term stay in the country. 

Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov condemned the rally and vowed to take measures against those trying to sabotage Kyrgyzstan-China relations on Wednesday. He said they knew who were trying to politicize the issue and their intentions to sabotage bilateral relations and destabilize the country.

A political expert named Vadim Kozyulin told the Kommersant that the anti-China sentiment in Kyrgyzstan has been deliberately made to worsen. "In Kyrgyz society, rumors of Chinese people marrying Kyrgyz women to get passports have always been exaggerated. In fact, few Chinese people have come to settle down in Kyrgyzstan," Kozyulin said. 

Boronov also denied rumors that there are illegal Chinese immigrants in Kyrgyzstan. According to him, only 35,000 Chinese citizens went to Kyrgyzstan in 2018, and 41,000 in 2017. Currently there are about 800 Chinese citizens in the country. Over the last eight years, only 268 Chinese citizens have obtained Kyrgyz citizenship. At least 161 of them are ethnic Kyrgyz, 72 Uygurs, 9 Uzbeks, one Kazakh, and six Han people, read media reports. He also said that the trade volume between China and Kyrgyzstan is 35 percent of Kyrgyzstan's total foreign trade, which showed the extent of cooperation between the two countries.

Despite rumors that money lent by China is threatening the country's sovereignty, statistics from the finance ministry of Kyrgyzstan showed that the country's total foreign debt and its debt to China have both been decreasing over the past few months. 

Analysts pointed out that the economic foundation of Kyrgyzstan is weak and its economic links with other member countries of the Eurasian Economic Union aren't strong. Therefore, to conduct economic and trade cooperation with China is a necessary way to boost the country's development. 

The country's plan to develop the digital and hi-tech industries still needs China's support. Jeenbekov told the media that Kyrgyzstan should be "grateful" to China's free assistance and loans. He stressed that the problem is their own and there are forces trying to damage the relationship. 

"As Jeenbekov said, this debt incident is like a premediated political struggle," an anonymous international expert told the Global Times. 

He said that it's normal to hype China issues, incite anti-China sentiments and frame political opponents in Kyrgyz politics.

In June 2018, China and Kyrgyzstan agreed to upgrade the bilateral relationship to comprehensive strategic partnership, an important diplomatic achievement of Jeenbekov's administration. But the healthy and upgraded bilateral relations are bad news for some people in Kyrgyzstan, who fabricated rumors that the Chinese loans have been embezzled by authorities and the country is forced to cede the land to repay them.

"Objectively speaking, transparency in the Kyrgyz government isn't high and it lacks a thorough supervisory system. These rumors are confusing which poses a threat to the government's prestige and China-Kyrgyzstan relations," said the expert. 

Jeenbekov stressed that they haven't embezzled public property and have never done harm to the country, so they have "nothing to worry about." 

Global Times 

Newspaper headline: Kyrgyzstan debunks China loan rumors

Posted in: DIPLOMACY

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