Discrediting China-Africa cooperation won’t succeed

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/10/28 13:08:40

Aerial photo taken on June 3, 2018 shows trains stop at the Nairobi railway station in Nairobi, capital of Kenya. In the past five years, China and African nations have deepened political mutual trust, mutual assistance in development and mutual learning in visions, and made concerted efforts in building the Belt and Road and a closer China-Africa community with a shared future. (Xinhua/Wang Teng)

The African country of Zambia recently sought debt restructuring against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world, while some Western media and politicians again tried to hype some developing countries' debt problems and defame China's efforts to strengthen cooperation with Africa.

The old scheme of the Western world cooking up the "debt trap" issue has been one of the topics that anti-China forces used to insult China for political gains, especially as the US presidential election nears.

During recent decades, China has been offering aid to African countries through various approaches and has formed a profound basis for cooperation with these nations. The premise of this decades-long cooperation is that projects are in line with Africa's development, including increased loans for African countries.

For nations encountering difficulties in paying back their debts on time, China has been working with related countries to find solutions on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. During the China-Africa summit against COVID-19 held in June, China announced plans to cancel the debt of relevant African countries in the form of interest-free government loans that are due to mature by the end of 2020, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

Also, China has been one of the nations that has actively initiated and participated in the G20's Debt Service Suspension Initiative. Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry, told a regular press conference in August that China had received debt relief requests from over 20 countries, and had reached agreement with more than 10 of them as of the end of July.

Yet a report by the Financial Times claimed that "the extent of China's commitment is unclear", despite China's efforts to help relieve the debt burdens of African and other developing countries.

Holding double standards, the Western world has been tirelessly attacking China's foreign aid, regardless of each project's merit and involved countries' essential interests, and implying that there seems only one solution to debt problems - "cancelling debt". 

Instead of helping developing countries, the intrinsic reasons for this stance represent an attempt to confront China and undermine the prospects of China-Africa cooperation.

Simply cancelling debt is neither a universal solution nor an effective one. It is effective and reasonable approaches that China and African countries need in order to facilitate the sustainable development of related projects, as well as the long-term interests of the nations involved.

Offering debt forgiveness to certain projects based on international conventions is one approach. Seeking debt restructuring and implementing innovative financial instruments are also practical paths to reach efficient solutions.

Meanwhile, the pandemic crisis offers a lesson for China and other related countries to shore up risk management when it comes to international cooperation, and to build a long-term mechanism that is normalized and institutionalized to deal with future risks.

As the first country to realize a rapid and effective economic recovery from the pandemic, China is expected to be the only major economy to achieve growth this year. As a responsible large economy, China will carry forward the spirit of internationalism to help African and other developing countries to shake off the impact of the virus. It is expected that other countries and international organizations could join hands to help relieve the pressure on less-developed economies, rather than sowing discord in a bid to gather political benefits. 

The cooperation between China and Africa has formed a solid and profound basis, which won't be disturbed by certain ill-intentioned forces from the Western world.

The article was compiled based on an interview with Bao Jianyun, professor of the School of International Studies and director of the Center for International Political Economy Studies at Renmin University of China. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn


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