BRI genuinely brings shared benefits to China, Africa
Narratives such as ‘debt trap’ have no market among locals
Published: Sep 01, 2023 08:22 PM
Liu Rui/GT

Liu Rui/GT

Editor's Note: 

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the proposal of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Over the past decade, Africa has emerged as a prime example of how the BRI has delivered tangible benefits to both China and Africa, fostering closer ties between the two sides. The remarkable progress can be seen in the numerous infrastructure projects undertaken by Chinese companies, the increasing investments in Africa, the growing China-Africa trade, and the strengthening of people-to-people exchanges.

To gain insights into the achievements of the BRI and the future prospects of China-Africa relations, Global Times reporters Liu Xin, Xing Xiaojing, Tu Lei, and Zhang Wang conducted interviews with ambassadors from China and Madagascar to learn how African people evaluate BRI and refute smears against the initiative by certain Western media outlets.

Zhou Pingjian, Chinese Ambassador to Kenya

The people-to-people exchanges between China and Kenya have laid a solid foundation since the time of legendary Chinese navigator Zheng He's voyages to the coast of East Africa. With the strong driving force of jointly building the BRI, the friendly exchanges between the two countries are expected to deepen further.

In Kenya, we rarely hear any negative comments about China. The local people have confidence in China's development and prospects, and naturally want their own future development to be related to China. 

Zhou Pingjian, Chinese Ambassador to Kenya

Zhou Pingjian, Chinese Ambassador to Kenya

There are always people who can't stand others' success. During our exchanges with local friends in Kenya, no one agrees with the so-called "debt trap." Even if some Kenyans are influenced by such rhetoric, misunderstandings can be eliminated as long as there is clear communication. 

A country needs capital for development. If it lacks domestic capital, it needs to find ways to utilize external capital appropriately. Many Kenyans believe that it is good for someone to offer loans to help them develop.

As far as I know, the so-called "debt trap" narrative lacks credibility in Kenya. China's financing in Kenya is based on the development projects in the Kenya Vision 2030 plan. Before these projects started, China was not the only country Kenya had contact with. Kenya compared different options and independently chose China. The reason behind this is that Chinese financing brings project implementation and provides Kenya with the most fair and reasonable financing arrangements within its capacity.

Other narratives such as "neo-colonialism" have no market in Kenya either. My feeling is that when certain media outlets hype such topics, the local media in Kenya doesn't give them much attention because the people there have benefited from the pragmatic cooperation with China under the BRI.

Guo Xiaomei, Chinese Ambassador to Madagascar

Various sectors in Madagascar generally welcome the BRI and believe that the cooperation between China and Madagascar under the framework of the BRI meets the development needs of Madagascar and truly achieves shared benefits. 

Guo Xiaomei, Chinese Ambassador to Madagascar

Guo Xiaomei, Chinese Ambassador to Madagascar

Among them, President Andry Rajoelina's high evaluation of the BRI has left a deep impression on me. He stated that China is a reliable and important partner for Madagascar's development, and Madagascar's determination and confidence in actively participating in the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative will not change. In September last year, President Rajoelina personally attended the inauguration ceremony of the rehabilitation project of the National Road 5A and drove smoothly on the newly repaired road. He proudly cheered with the people, "Bye bye gôdra!" (Goodbye, mud!) expressing the joy of completely changing the "nightmare" of residents along the road.

The cooperative construction of the BRI has not only effectively promoted policy communication, trade facilitation, infrastructure connectivity, and financial integration, but also promoted people-to-people communication between China and Madagascar. The exchanges and communication between the two sides have continued to expand, enhancing mutual understanding and friendship, and laying a solid foundation for friendly relations between the two countries. 

Jean Louis Robinson, Ambassador of Madagascar to China

Madagascar is among the first African countries to sign the BRI with China. In my opinion, the BRI has brought enormous influence to countries along the route since it was proposed 10 years ago. As an ambassador, I have been invited by the Chinese government to several provinces to witness the achievements of the BRI. I have also observed many countries benefiting from the BRI, and seizing various development opportunities.  

Jean Louis Robinson, Ambassador of Madagascar to China

Jean Louis Robinson, Ambassador of Madagascar to China

Madagascar is an island country in the Indian Ocean. It possesses abundant natural gas resources. Madagascar's offshore oil resources are very rich, and it also has a good strategic location advantage, and there is great potential for cooperation with China in oil refining and port development. In particular, the port can facilitate the transportation of goods from southern Africa, and support the establishment of cement plants and aluminum mines. 

When referring to Madagascar, please don't say that Madagascar is very poor. In fact, Madagascar is not poor at all. On the contrary, it is very rich with abundant underground resources. I believe one day Madagascar will do very well for itself. 

There are no traps in the BRI. On the contrary, for some developing countries, especially some emerging countries, the BRI presents a very good development opportunity. 

For China, my deepest impression is the coherence of policies. China has its own development planning, and it develops its plans in a coherent manner, which some countries do not. This coherence has also brought great opportunities for China's development. The BRI is a win-win project, which is very different from the narratives by the West who always talks about conspiracy theories.

Western countries put forward the so-called debt trap theory to try and hinder the development of these developing countries. There is no room for any conspiracy. I am clearly opposed to this narrative.