Chinese envoy says Africa not a place for major-power competition, rejects ‘China debt trap’ claims
Published: Dec 13, 2022 04:15 PM Updated: Dec 13, 2022 04:12 PM
Qin Gang Photo: website of China's embassy in the US

Qin Gang  File Photo: website of China's embassy in the US

Africa is a place for international cooperation, not for major-power competition, Chinese ambassador to the US Qin Gang said on Monday, rejecting claims of a “China debt trap.”

Qin’s remarks were made at a fireside talk with media outlet Semafor ahead of the second US-Africa summit scheduled from Tuesday to Thursday. Much of the talk is focused on Africa-centered topics. 

Wishing the summit success in gathering international attention and support for Africa, Qin underlined Africa should be a place for international cooperation, not for major-power competition for geopolitical gains. 

On eve of the summit, the White House announced a $55 billion aid package over three years to Africa, with details to be discussed in following days. This despite voices of concern as to whether the US can sincerely fulfill the commitment and its intention may be to balance China’s role in the region against the backdrop of the China-US rivalry. 

Qin said on Monday that China welcomes all other members of the international community, including the US, to join in the global effort to help Africa. I hope that the forthcoming Africa-US Summit will come up with more concrete and workable measures, Qin said.  

In response to a question of so-called debt trap, Qin said China's investment and financing assistance to Africa is not a trap but a benefit. Over the past decades, China has provided loans to help Africa with economic and social development. Construction work is happening everywhere in Africa. You can see hospitals, highways, airports, stadiums. “Obviously, there is no such trap. It is not a plot. It is transparent, it is sincere. This is obvious.”

Qin also cited numbers – China is not the biggest creditor of African debts. According to the World Bank, 49 African countries, as far as the data can be obtained, has near $700 billion in debt obligations. Among the money owed, three quarters are owed to multinational institutions and non-Chinese private lenders. The debts owed to China are only a small amount. 

According to “Debt Justice”, a UK-based charity, African countries owe three times more debts to Western private lenders than they owe to China, and their interest rates are double. 

Yet China understands the debt situation and wants to help African countries alleviate poverty and to work for their economic and social development. There is a concern about that issue during the pandemic, Qin said, adding that China is participating in the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative.

We call on all other creditors, multinational 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, the ambassador said.

Global Times