Chinese FM says so-called “debt trap” in Africa is narrative trap

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Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang makes remarks in a joint press conference with the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, on Jan. 11, 2023. (Xinhua/Dong Jianghui)

ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) — Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang on Wednesday refuted the groundless allegation that China is creating a “debt trap” in Africa, saying the so-called “debt trap” is a narrative trap imposed on China and Africa.

Qin made the remarks in a joint press conference with the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat.

African countries have in recent years been actively working to promote economic and social development, but lack of funds has become a major bottleneck to Africa’s prosperity and revitalization, said Qin, stressing that how to balance development financing with debt growth is an issue that all countries must face head-on in the course of pursuing development.

As good brothers sharing weal and woe, China and Africa have forged ahead side by side on the path of common development, said Qin.

Noting that China has always been committed to helping Africa ease its debt burden, Qin said his country is an active participant in the Group of 20 (G20) Debt Service Suspension Initiative. He also said that China has signed agreements or reached consensuses with 19 African countries on debt relief and has suspended the most debt service payments among G20 members.

China has also been actively engaged in the case-by-case debt treatment for Chad, Ethiopia and Zambia under the G20 Common Framework, he added.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said at the opening ceremony of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in November 2021 that China was ready to channel to African countries 10 billion U.S. dollars from its share of the IMF’s (International Monetary Fund) new allocation of Special Drawing Rights, and this work has made progress in stages, Qin said.

Qin cited data from the World Bank as saying that multilateral financial institutions and commercial creditors hold nearly three-quarters of Africa’s total external debt, adding that they could and should take more robust actions to relieve the debt burden of African countries. “China calls upon all parties concerned to contribute to alleviating Africa’s debt burden in line with the principle of common actions and fair burden-sharing.”

Stressing that Africa’s debt problem is essentially an issue of development, Qin said the solution to the problem requires addressing not only the symptoms but also the root causes by means of debt treatment, so as to enhance Africa’s independent and sustainable development capacity.

He said China’s financing cooperation with Africa is mainly in areas such as infrastructure construction and production capacity, with a view to enhancing Africa’s capacity for independent and sustainable development.

Qin emphasized that the so-called “debt trap” is a narrative trap imposed on China and Africa, adding that only the African people are in the best position to say whether cooperative China-Africa projects contribute to the development of the continent and the improvement of people’s livelihood.

China will continue to respect the will of the African people, and bring tangible benefits to the African people through China-Africa cooperation based on the actual situation in Africa, so as to achieve better common development, said Qin. 

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