China cancels 23 loans for 17 African countries, expands ‘win-win’ trade, infrastructure projects

The Chinese government has announced that it is waiving 23 interest-free loans for 17 African countries, while pledging to deepen its collaboration with the continent.

This is on top of China’s cancellation of more than $3.4 billion in debt and the restructuring of around $15 billion in debt in Africa between 2000 and 2019.

While Beijing has a repeated history of canceling loans like this, Western governments have made baseless and politically motivated accusations that China is using “debt trap diplomacy” in the Global South.

The United States has turned Africa into a battleground in its new Cold War against China and Russia. And Washington has weaponized dubious allegations of Chinese “debt traps” in an attempt to demonize Beijing for its major infrastructure projects on the continent.

For its part, China has pushed back against the new American Cold War.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a meeting with leaders from various African countries and the African Union on Aug. 18.

At the conference, Wang condemned the West’s “zero-sum Cold War mentality”. He instead proposed a model based on “multi-stakeholder cooperation” with Africa that brings “win-win results” for all parties.

“What Africa would like is mutually beneficial cooperation for the greater welfare of the people, not rivalry between big countries for geopolitical gains,” he said.

Wang revealed that Beijing would support the African Union in its efforts to join the G20.

The foreign minister also announced that “China will waive 23 interest-free loans for 17 African countries that had come due by the end of 2021.”

Beijing is committed to boosting trade with Africa and has reached agreements with 12 countries on the continent to remove tariffs on 98% of the products they export to China, thereby increasing the competitiveness of African products.

Wang said Beijing will continue to provide food, economic and military aid to Africa, while offering assistance in the fight against Covid-19.

Stressing the importance of “development cooperation”, China offered billions of dollars of investment in infrastructure projects as “a strong impetus to Africa’s industrialization process”.

Africa plays an important role in Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, a global infrastructure project aimed at interconnecting countries in the Global South and shifting the center of the global economy to the east.

“In the face of various forms of hegemonic practices and intimidation, China and Africa have stood side by side,” Wang said, calling for “upholding international fairness and justice.”

US diplomats visit Africa and pressure it to cut ties with China and Russia

China’s comments and promises to deepen “mutually beneficial cooperation” with Africa could hardly have been more different from those made by senior US diplomats.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield visited Uganda and Ghana the first week of August. There she threatened the continent, telling African nations they could not trade with Russia or they would violate Western sanctions.

Thomas-Greenfield warned in Uganda: “Regarding the sanctions we have against Russia – for example, oil sanctions – if a country decides to engage with Russia where there are sanctions, then it violates these sanctions; they are violating our sanctions and in some cases they are violating UN sanctions with other countries, and we warn countries not to violate those sanctions because then if they do they stand the chance of see action taken against them for violating these sanctions.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken then visited South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda from August 7-11, as part of a trip aimed at weakening Africa’s relations with the China and Russia.

“The Chinese ‘debt trap’ is a myth”

One of Washington’s most potent weapons in its information war against China is its unsubstantiated accusations that Beijing is supposed to trap African nations in debt.

Yet, as Multipolarista has already pointed out in an analysis of Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, Western governments, financial institutions, banks and vulture funds are responsible for the vast majority of the debt in which the countries of the South are trapped.

The UK government’s own state media, the BBC, investigated claims of ‘debt trap diplomacy’ in Sri Lanka and reluctantly concluded they were false.

“The truth is that many independent experts say we should be wary of the Chinese debt trap narrative, and we have found plenty of evidence here in Sri Lanka to contradict it,” said BBC reporter Ben Chu. , in a dispatch.

Similarly, mainstream scholars at Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Business School have acknowledged in Washington’s established magazine The Atlantic that “the Chinese ‘debt trap’ is a myth.”

Researcher Deborah Brautigam wrote that the US government-sponsored narrative is “a lie and a powerful lie”.

“Our research shows that Chinese banks are willing to restructure the terms of existing loans and have never seized an asset from any country,” she added.

Brautigam found that between 2000 and 2019, China canceled more than $3.4 billion and restructured or refinanced around $15 billion of debt in Africa, renegotiating at least 26 individual loans.

This past debt forgiveness comes on top of 23 interest-free loans to 17 African countries that Beijing has announced it will pardon.

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