Pretoria – The people’s Republic of China has introduced an array of interventions to cushion African nations struggling to meet debt obligations with Chinese institutions in a bid to alleviate repayment pressure, Ambassador of China to South Africa Chen Xiaodong said.

“China attaches great importance to debt sustainability of Africa and the economic and social returns of projects. Putting ourselves in Africa’s position, we have worked to help Africa prevent debt risks and alleviate repayment pressure,” Chen said.

He was speaking during a dialogue webinar hosted by the South African Institute of International Affairs and the China-Africa Joint research and Exchange Programme.

“China has been committed to efficient and high quality development in Africa in a way that respects the will of the African people and in line with their actual needs. Covid-19 is putting greater economic pressure on African countries.”

China takes the situation “seriously and has made active efforts” to meet Africa’s needs.

“On the basis of implementing the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative and within the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation framework, China has declared to cancel the debt of relevant African countries in the form of interest-free government loans that are due to mature by the end of 2020,” Chen said.

“China also calls on multilateral financial institutions and private creditors to increase support for African countries that are severely affected by the pandemic, including debt restructuring and further extension of the debt relief period.”

He said the Export-Import Bank of China, as an official bilateral creditor, had so far signed debt suspension agreements with 11 African countries.

The South African Institute of International Affairs and the China-Africa Joint Research and Exchange Programme, an initiative under the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation, are jointly hosting a series of dialogues on promoting Africa-China co-operation.

On Tuesday, Chen said the China-Africa friendship and co-operation had emerged stronger from challenges and difficulties.

“However, certain forces with ulterior motives have kept fabricating the so-called ‘debt trap fallacy’, ‘strategic asset plundering fallacy’, and ‘neocolonialism fallacy’ to exert pressure on African countries and prevent their co-operation with China in 5G and other fields,” said Chen.

“They attempt to drive a wedge between China and Africa and force Africa to take sides. All of their acts are attributed to Cold War mentality and the zero-sum game mindset.”

He has emphasised that China has remained Africa’s largest trading partner for 11 consecutive years. He said two-way trade between China and Africa reached $208.7 billion (R3400bn) last year, 20 times more than that of 2000.

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