China, Africa’s largest bilateral lender, waived debt owed by 17 countries in the continent for 23 interest-free loans that were due in 2021.
The context of the latest relief reinforces China’s intention for Africa to consider the Asian power its preferred long-term development partner, especially “in the face of the various forms of hegemonic and bullying practices,” Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, said. That may have been a reference to the recent contentious visit by US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.
The relief was announced on Aug. 18 in an address to Chinese and African diplomats at a follow-up meeting on the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation that was held last November in Senegal. At that forum last year, China reduced its pledge to Africa by 33% in an apparent show of concern for Africa’s indebtedness to it and against the backdrop of slowing Chinese economic growth.
Specifics of the announced relief are not known as the beneficiaries and amount were not disclosed. China canceled debt due to interest-free loans worth $113.8 million that matured in 2020 for 15 African countries including Botswana, Burundi, Rwanda, Cameroon, the DRC, and Mozambique.