Ben Norton china International

China Forgives 23 Loans for 17 African Countries, Expands ‘Win-Win’ Trade and Infrastructure Projects

China is forgiving 23 interest-free loans for 17 African countries, after already cancelling $3.4 billion and restructuring $15 billion of debt from 2000-2019. Beijing pledged more infrastructure projects and offered favorable trade deals in a “win-win” model of “mutually beneficial cooperation.”
Image by Prachatai via Flickr

By Benjamin Norton / Multipolarista

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

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

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

The United States has turned Africa into a battleground in its new cold war on China and Russia. And Washington has weaponized dubious claims of Chinese “debt traps” to try to demonize Beijing for its substantial infrastructure projects on the continent.

For its part, China has pushed back against the US new cold war.

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

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

“What Africa would welcome is mutually beneficial cooperation for the greater well-being of the people, not major-country rivalry for geopolitical gains,” he said.

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

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

Beijing pledged to strengthen trade with Africa, and has made agreements with 12 countries on the continent to remove tariffs for 98% of the products they export to China, increasing the competitiveness of African goods.

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

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

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

“In the face of the various forms of hegemonic and bullying practices, China and Africa have stood with each other shoulder to shoulder,” Wang stressed, calling to “safeguard international fairness and justice.”

US diplomats visit Africa, 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 any more different from those made by top US diplomats.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, visited Uganda and Ghana in the first week of August. There, she threatened the continent, telling African nations they cannot do trade with Russia, or they will be violating Western sanctions.

Thomas-Greenfield warned in Uganda, “As for sanctions that we have on Russia – for example, oil sanctions – if a country decides to engage with Russia where there are sanctions, then they are breaking those sanctions; they’re breaking our sanctions and in some cases they’re breaking UN sanctions with other countries, and we caution countries not to break those sanctions because then, if they do, they stand the chance of having actions taken against them for breaking those sanctions.”

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

‘The Chinese “debt trap” is a myth’

One of Washington’s most powerful weapons in its information war on China is its evidence-free accusations that Beijing is supposedly trapping African nations in debt.

Yet as Multipolarista previously reported in an analysis of Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, Western governments, financial institutions, banks, and vulture funds are responsible for the vast majority of debt that Global South countries are trapped in.

The UK government’s own state media outlet BBC investigated allegations of “debt trap diplomacy” in Sri Lanka and reluctantly concluded that they are false.

“The truth is that many independent experts say that we should be wary of the Chinese debt trap narrative, and we’ve found quite a lot of evidence here in Sri Lanka which contradicts it,” BBC reporter Ben Chu said in a dispatch.

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

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

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

Brautigam found that, between 2000 and 2019, China cancelled 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 is in addition to the 23 interest-free loans for 17 African countries that Beijing has announced it will pardon.

Benjamin Norton
Benjamin Norton

Ben Norton is a journalist, writer, and filmmaker. He is the founder and editor of Multipolarista, and is based in Latin America.

16 comments

  1. So, first Putin addressed these representatives, and now Wang Yi had talked to the African nations about “win-win” projects.
    The noose is tightening on the US-centric hegemonic empire. No wonder Washington is thrashing around.
    Buh-bye!

    1. Well put. But remember Godzilla almost destroyed Tokyo with its death throes. What does “China is prepared to rechannel its $10bn SDR in IMF to Africa” mean? Good, bad or indifferent?

  2. China is able to forgive loans for infrastructure the same way USA builds and staffs military bases. The money is created in a central bank and then paid to Chinese companies to build the ports and railways. The money for military bases is paid to “defense” contractors. Some money is paid in wages to local people in both cases. In the case of China the wages are paid from earnings from the port. In the case of the military base the wages paid come from the tax payers loaned at interest. The money from the Chinese banks is created interest free so it is easy to forgive. The US Foreign policy has been captured by IMF and World Bank that are privately owned and do not forgive debts. Regardless of ideology, I would prefer to get a loan that may be forgiven than one that certainly won’t be. I would rather have a railway than a military base.

    1. everything the IMF& the World Bank do is to create enslavement via indebtedness – the call them anti-poverty programs but they actually create poverty

  3. I’d like to see the IMF, World Bank, or some other Western, neo-colonial, debt-enslavement facilitator forgive loans to the Global South. This won’t ever happen, because these debts serve multiple purposes as means of control over brown people and hugely-profitable vacuums sucking the Global South’s vast wealth and resources into the coffers of the Global North. How the else did France, Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, etc end up with such beautiful buildings, nice digs, and societal wealth? By stealing from those unable to keep the thieving bastards from pinching it. But, one day the Americans and the Europeans will eat their crow and humble pie. And China, Russia, India, Africa, and Latin America will pass them the salt and pepper.

  4. Why would the African nations want anything to do with the US whose imperialist,racist,and exploitive actions are legion.As China grows and the US economy shrinks the US can not and will.not accept.2nd banana.I do.not.preclude.the use of Nuclear weapons to stop.the loss.This will.not.be healthy.for the.planet or humanity not that the rulers of the US care.

  5. The US’s idea of Diplomacy is the “Libya Model” of Hillary and John Bolton. If you are not slaughtering and maiming thousands and destroying homes and local economies, you are doing it wrong!
    The world may be afraid to openly challenge the US NOW, but it’s just a matter of time. Russia and China give peoples alternatives to the usurious IMF and World bank loans, which no country can afford to pay back (their American puppet dictators skip out with $millions, and the US then steals their resources.)

  6. Turns out, in America, the Capitalists hate capitalism.

    What they love is monopoly. But they hate actual competition and capitalism which is based on competition.

    The most flagrant example has been the ‘labor shortage’ which is really just corporate code for the fact that the Bosses refuse to pay the prices for Labor that the laws of Supply and Demand set for them. And, here we see another example. America no longer ‘competes’ abroad. We used to do so. We used to come in and make a deal. But no longer. Now we bluster and threaten and overthrow governments to make sure that the deals don’t go to the countries making the better offers.

    American capitalists hate capitalism. Its just so unfair.

  7. China moves in parallel path of other western historical imperial powers but not along lines of geopolitics but along lines of permeating soft economic globalism. So Russia has moved that way spurring western anger about multipolar geopolitical world. To exploit country there is no longer need to conquer it and reshape it socioeconomically, politically and culturally to enable remote control of metropolis over colonial periphery.

    The Russia, China, perhaps India in a sense of long term policies and political sensibilities among elites and the rest of New Global Eastern block generally follow western imperial path however they rejected neocolonial ideas of directly serving metropolitan centers for more socioeconomic networked solutions.

    For example Chinese are building infrastructure in the countries to allow them to trade commodities worldwide including in large part within a network of countries that trade with China.

    China does not want countries in their network to become complete monoculture commodity statelets depend on metropolis. Chinese don’t want to be paid in bananas, they actually don’t want or need but they want a country to trade with those who trade with China.

    In the Internet analogy China and Russia and perhaps India want to create a trade backbone system to which other countries trade networks are connected for speed and convenience in trading. Monetary solutions follow those trade networks and economic programs.

    Of course it is not altruistic as Chinese by that move promote their own worldwide historical Chinese economically strong diaspora mostly in Asia but also in Latin America and Pacific Islands.

    In part giving away money or forgiving loans serves their diaspora benefit while improves socioeconomic relations between local Chinese and native populations worldwide. The same approach was long adopted by Russian and Indian elites.

    While Eastern and southern block globalist agenda seems to look more benign or more people oriented so far I believe that such impression is among others a result of the block’s underdog’s status vs US concocted IMF world order and the fact the so far Chinese, Russian and Indian capital is not as much dominated by finance industry and technology capital as their are commodity giants as US was early XX century.

    Ultimately as far as global capital development is concerned the end will always be the same; global enslavement of people one way or another as the same principles of capital, profit and exploitation apply in BRICS as much as anywhere else. Capitalism is lose-lose proposition for vast majority of people who work for living.

  8. For comparison, check out an old book with a title something like “Confessions of an Economic Hitman.” This book describes the American approach, from the point of view of a well-connected college kid who got rich from it.

    The American approach was to fake up some expert reports about how great a project would be. If the country is electrified, everyone becomes millionaires, there is a chicken in every pot, and 3 cars in every garage. Using the report, they convince the crooks that run the country to take out big loans. A big chunk of that money finds its way into the crooks’ pockets.

    The end result is the American debt trap. The country ends up in debt, with its people required to pay. The then rulers of the country end up rich, possibly living in Miami or on the Med. The project itself was only partially funded after the corruption, and could never meet its lofty goals.

    As is typical with the Americans, they are good at projecting their own crimes onto others, without of course any real evidence in this modern, post-truth America.

  9. I wonder what happens if African countries stop taking out new IMF loans. Has it happened yet?

  10. unfortunately, China could care less about environmental damage & conservation

    bye bye the last mega fauna ecosystem

  11. It appears to.me from what I read and observe that the rulers of Russia and China and possibly.Iran care more about people and.the future of mankind than.the money grabbing Capitalist,war lover’s and Genocide doers like the US,Israel and Saudi Arabia.Such attitudes can.not be tolerated by the MIC,MSM.and the Masters of Mankind.Such.ideas must be squashed ASAP,before real Democracy or Socialism.rears it’s ugly.head.

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