Illustration: Tang Tengfei/Global Times
Citing default risks in some African countries, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday that China had “signalled a more cautious approach” and applied “the brakes on lending to Africa”. In what sounds more like an opinion piece than a news article, the outlet also repeated the “debt trap” vilification against China, saying that “Chinese lending is essentially predatory.”
Telling a fabricated story claiming that Uganda was at risk of losing a key asset to China due to repayment difficulty, the article, quoting so-called analysts, described the contractual terms of the financing projects of China as “toxic”. Then he admitted that despite an accusation that strategic assets could be seized by Chinese lenders due to default, “that hasn’t happened in any way.”
The obvious trend here is that whether China speeds up or slows down its lending to Africa, the West is ready to bash China with its well-worn “debt trap” story. Behind the catch-all cliche is the West’s bare hypocrisy and sour grapes over close China-Africa ties. Basically, they just feel pissed off by the slightest ray of China’s presence on the African continent, and they just want China gone, no matter how it affects Africa’s development.
Chinese and Ugandan officials have refuted the story suggesting that Chinese lenders could “take over” Uganda’s only international airport after a default. Telling a fabricated story makes no sense, and using it to undermine the mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Africa is rather vicious.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said in an interview with Reuters that “the Chinese seem to have more glasses to see the business opportunities in Uganda here than your western companies.” He added that “Uganda was trying to sign a number of agreements with Chinese private sector lenders in sectors such as agricultural and fertilizer processing, mineral processing and textiles.”
Obviously, what all Western media can see in Africa is the inability of countries to repay loans for crucial infrastructure projects needed for social and economic development and their inability to read contracts. Such a level of arrogance is almost unbelievable until one reads articles like the one published by the Financial Times.
African countries are in a real position to say whether Chinese investments are beneficial or not.
In fact, no developing country has fallen into the so-called debt trap because of Chinese lending. And ironically, according to a Deutsche Welle fact-checking report, there is more precedent for European lenders to sue African governments over state assets than there is for China.
Unlike Western countries that plundered raw materials from Africa and attempted to overhaul their political systems, China offered real support to facilitate Africa’s development without any political strings attached. This is what appeals to African countries.
“From 2000 to 2020, China has helped African countries build more than 13,000 kilometers of roads and railways and more than 80 large-scale power facilities, and financed more than 130 medical facilities, 45 sports venues and more. of 170 schools,” reads the White Paper of China and Africa in the New Era: A Partnership of Equals.
Besides infrastructure projects, cooperation between China and African countries has extended to a wide range of fields, from agricultural, cultural, industrial, financial sectors to the digital economy. To help the continent fight the COVID-19 pandemic, China has provided more than 180 million doses of vaccines to 53 African countries and the African Union Commission as of the beginning of the year; and in November 2021, China pledged to provide an additional 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Africa.
Going back to the so-called “loan brakes” asserted by the Financial Times, it is quite normal for market-based loans to fluctuate from time to time based on changing demand. This shouldn’t be hard to figure out. This certainly does not suggest a major shift in China’s policy towards Africa, as the Financial Times seems to claim.
The deep friendship between China and Africa was not built in a day, and China’s support for Africa remains strong no matter how hard the Western media tries to undermine it. China will continue to strengthen cooperation with Africa on the basis of mutual benefit and respect.
The author is an editor at the Global Times. [email protected]