"Debt trap diplomacy" Is Beijing using loans to expand its influence in Africa? "Debt trap diplomacy" Is Beijing using loans to expand its influence in Africa?

"Debt trap diplomacy" Is Beijing using loans to expand its influence in Africa?

"Debt trap diplomacy".. Is Beijing using loans to expand its influence in Africa?  Beijing's large financial solvency has paved the way for entering into various partnerships with the countries of the continent, and within a wide range of financial transactions between the two parties, loans emerge as one of the features of China's strategy in Africa. The recent decades have witnessed a significant increase for China in the African continent, as it has turned with time into Africa's largest trading partner, with the value of trade exchange between the two parties reaching $282 billion in 2022.  The year 2000 witnessed the establishment of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum as a mechanism to enhance cooperation between the two parties. With the passage of time, Africa and China formulated and implemented the "Ten Major Programs of Cooperation" and "Eight Major Initiatives", so that the trade volume increased 20 times , and China's direct investment in Africa increased by 100 times .  - African demand for borrowing from Beijing  Beijing's large financial solvency has paved the way for entering into various partnerships with the countries of the continent, and within a wide range of financial transactions between the two parties, loans emerge as one of the features of China's strategy in Africa.  Between 2000 and 2018, 50 of the 54 African countries borrowed from China in various forms. In 2018, the People's Republic of China held approximately 21% of the continent's outstanding external public debt, with a large portion of these loans related to infrastructure.  Experts believe that the "clarity and lack of restrictions" factor is one of several reasons that explain this African countries over China.  This is what Muhammad Zakaria went to in his statement to TRT Arabi about Africans' preference for cooperation with China, whether in the field of investments or loans, before adding, explaining: "Chinese loans are often devoid of accompanying conditions that serve other agendas in favor of the lender."  In comparing Beijing with other lenders, Zakaria, an economic researcher interested in the affairs of the Central African region, says that the United States and European countries require specific banks for loans from African countries, in addition to that they "must fulfill some conditions related to human rights, democracy and minority rights."  While China, according to Zakaria, "doesn't care about all of that, it is only looking for a long-term partnership with these countries, and therefore offers soft loans."  "Non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries" is one of the pillars of Chinese foreign policy philosophy, which is appreciated by African governments, as both sides reject outside interference in their domestic policies, especially with regard to issues such as human rights and democratic government.  China or Africa, who benefits?  Some analysts attribute Beijing's interest in establishing and developing infrastructure in Africa to the Chinese government's view that the weakness of this sector in the countries of the continent is a fundamental obstacle to its progress in development paths, and that the Chinese initiatives related to this field will pave the way for the countries of the continent to get out of this impasse.  In this context, Mohamed Zakaria believes that both parties to the loan are beneficiaries. "China benefits from debt interest, in addition to creating a close relationship with the borrowing government, and opening doors for investments and other economic activities. African governments also benefit from obtaining the loan directly in conducting their national activities and implementing some outstanding projects.  On the other hand, Shadi Ibrahim says that the first beneficiary of the loans is "undoubtedly the Chinese government and its companies," explaining that "Beijing pursues lending policies that contribute to achieving its strategy related to the New Silk Road."  Sabah al-Din Zaim, a researcher at Istanbul University who specializes in international relations and security studies, adds that China “mortgages the strategic assets of African countries to ensure the repayment of loans, such as airports, ports and railways, as well as major mines, especially green minerals, which are minerals that are used in advanced industries such as electric car batteries, phones and drones.” pilot".  And Ibrahim continues in his interview with TRT Arabi that this, and contrary to many allegations, does not negate the African benefit from these transactions with China, as this gives the countries of the continent the opportunity to learn “from the Chinese experience in managing these assets, in addition to that African countries and societies are also achieving development as a result.” relatively high rates of development.  Are loans Chinese "traps"?  The term "Chinese debt trap diplomacy" appeared in 2017 as the title of an article by the Indian researcher Brahma Chellani, in which he argues that China is working through loans to form a sphere of dominance in the sectors of trade, communications, transportation and security ties, and that the financial problems of heavily indebted countries "do not help Except in China's neo-colonial plans," as he put it.  For his part, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zhao Lijian, responded to this characterization, citing World Bank reports, that with the completion of the implementation of all transport infrastructure projects related to the "Belt and Road" initiative, they will generate 1.6 trillion US dollars in revenue, and partner countries will share up to 90% of revenues, and that low- and middle-income economies are expected to benefit the most.  In this context, Ibrahim says that "loans are tools of influence exercised by major countries, and they are no different from the International Monetary Fund that is controlled by the United States and European countries," before realizing, "However, a difficult equation remains in the use of loans as a tool of influence, which is the high probability of Defaulting on loans amid growing corruption in most African governments is a high-risk investment.”  In the face of this reality, according to Ibrahim, China follows "smart methods, which is to seize strategic assets, whether by managing or owning them in exchange for extending the loan repayment period, or obtaining facilities to own strategic mines with large reserves, as is happening in Angola, Zimbabwe and other African countries."  This is what Muhammad Zakaria agrees with, considering that "there is no doubt that the Chinese loans are part of the strategy of expansion beyond its borders, and the search for markets for its various products, in addition to winning the sympathy of African countries and their votes in some international organizations such as the United Nations and others."  But Zakaria argues that there is a great Western exaggeration in what is being promoted by the "debt trap."  He explains this to TRT Arabi by falling into another trap, which is the “trap of American and European propaganda,” which portrays the actions of each country or bloc competing with it as a monster that seeks to swallow whoever deals with it, and that “Beijing only seeks to expand its influence in the African continent, and to drown it in debt to seize power.” on its natural resources.  For his part, Shadi Ibrahim describes the talk about "Chinese domination and occupation" as "ridiculous", explaining that the preference of Africans to deal with Beijing stems from the comparison they make between the relative benefits they obtain from cooperation with China and what European countries have done during the past three centuries. ".  He added that the researcher "will find that the colonial powers did not even build in some countries a hospital, school, or university, and all that they built were military installations, units, and branches of their original companies to import raw materials and minerals." Therefore, it is natural that "the Africans search for other supportive alternatives, and here they are proposed." Seeing China as a second path to development.

Beijing's large financial solvency has paved the way for entering into various partnerships with the countries of the continent, and within a wide range of financial transactions between the two parties, loans emerge as one of the features of China's strategy in Africa.

The recent decades have witnessed a significant increase for China in the African continent, as it has turned with time into Africa's largest trading partner, with the value of trade exchange between the two parties reaching $282 billion in 2022.

The year 2000 witnessed the establishment of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum as a mechanism to enhance cooperation between the two parties. With the passage of time, Africa and China formulated and implemented the "Ten Major Programs of Cooperation" and "Eight Major Initiatives", so that the trade volume increased 20 times , and China's direct investment in Africa increased by 100 times .

- African demand for borrowing from Beijing

Beijing's large financial solvency has paved the way for entering into various partnerships with the countries of the continent, and within a wide range of financial transactions between the two parties, loans emerge as one of the features of China's strategy in Africa.

Between 2000 and 2018, 50 of the 54 African countries borrowed from China in various forms. In 2018, the People's Republic of China held approximately 21% of the continent's outstanding external public debt, with a large portion of these loans related to infrastructure.

Experts believe that the "clarity and lack of restrictions" factor is one of several reasons that explain this African countries over China.

This is what Muhammad Zakaria went to in his statement to TRT about Africans' preference for cooperation with China, whether in the field of investments or loans, before adding, explaining: "Chinese loans are often devoid of accompanying conditions that serve other agendas in favor of the lender."

In comparing Beijing with other lenders, Zakaria, an economic researcher interested in the affairs of the Central African region, says that the United States and European countries require specific banks for loans from African countries, in addition to that they "must fulfill some conditions related to human rights, democracy and minority rights."

While China, according to Zakaria, "doesn't care about all of that, it is only looking for a long-term partnership with these countries, and therefore offers soft loans."

"Non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries" is one of the pillars of Chinese foreign policy philosophy, which is appreciated by African governments, as both sides reject outside interference in their domestic policies, especially with regard to issues such as human rights and democratic government.

China or Africa, who benefits?

Some analysts attribute Beijing's interest in establishing and developing infrastructure in Africa to the Chinese government's view that the weakness of this sector in the countries of the continent is a fundamental obstacle to its progress in development paths, and that the Chinese initiatives related to this field will pave the way for the countries of the continent to get out of this impasse.

In this context, Mohamed Zakaria believes that both parties to the loan are beneficiaries. "China benefits from debt interest, in addition to creating a close relationship with the borrowing government, and opening doors for investments and other economic activities. African governments also benefit from obtaining the loan directly in conducting their national activities and implementing some outstanding projects.

On the other hand, Shadi Ibrahim says that the first beneficiary of the loans is "undoubtedly the Chinese government and its companies," explaining that "Beijing pursues lending policies that contribute to achieving its strategy related to the New Silk Road."

Sabah al-Din Zaim, a researcher at Istanbul University who specializes in international relations and security studies, adds that China “mortgages the strategic assets of African countries to ensure the repayment of loans, such as airports, ports and railways, as well as major mines, especially green minerals, which are minerals that are used in advanced industries such as electric car batteries, phones and drones.” pilot".

And Ibrahim continues in his interview with TRT that this, and contrary to many allegations, does not negate the African benefit from these transactions with China, as this gives the countries of the continent the opportunity to learn “from the Chinese experience in managing these assets, in addition to that African countries and societies are also achieving development as a result.” relatively high rates of development.

Are loans Chinese "traps"?

The term "Chinese debt trap diplomacy" appeared in 2017 as the title of an article by the Indian researcher Brahma Chellani, in which he argues that China is working through loans to form a sphere of dominance in the sectors of trade, communications, transportation and security ties, and that the financial problems of heavily indebted countries "do not help Except in China's neo-colonial plans," as he put it.

For his part, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zhao Lijian, responded to this characterization, citing World Bank reports, that with the completion of the implementation of all transport infrastructure projects related to the "Belt and Road" initiative, they will generate 1.6 trillion US dollars in revenue, and partner countries will share up to 90% of revenues, and that low- and middle-income economies are expected to benefit the most.

In this context, Ibrahim says that "loans are tools of influence exercised by major countries, and they are no different from the International Monetary Fund that is controlled by the United States and European countries," before realizing, "However, a difficult equation remains in the use of loans as a tool of influence, which is the high probability of Defaulting on loans amid growing corruption in most African governments is a high-risk investment.”

In the face of this reality, according to Ibrahim, China follows "smart methods, which is to seize strategic assets, whether by managing or owning them in exchange for extending the loan repayment period, or obtaining facilities to own strategic mines with large reserves, as is happening in Angola, Zimbabwe and other African countries."

This is what Muhammad Zakaria agrees with, considering that "there is no doubt that the Chinese loans are part of the strategy of expansion beyond its borders, and the search for markets for its various products, in addition to winning the sympathy of African countries and their votes in some international organizations such as the United Nations and others."

But Zakaria argues that there is a great Western exaggeration in what is being promoted by the "debt trap."

He explains this to TRT by falling into another trap, which is the “trap of American and European propaganda,” which portrays the actions of each country or bloc competing with it as a monster that seeks to swallow whoever deals with it, and that “Beijing only seeks to expand its influence in the African continent, and to drown it in debt to seize power.” on its natural resources.

For his part, Shadi Ibrahim describes the talk about "Chinese domination and occupation" as "ridiculous", explaining that the preference of Africans to deal with Beijing stems from the comparison they make between the relative benefits they obtain from cooperation with China and what European countries have done during the past three centuries. ".

He added that the researcher "will find that the colonial powers did not even build in some countries a hospital, school, or university, and all that they built were military installations, units, and branches of their original companies to import raw materials and minerals." Therefore, it is natural that "the Africans search for other supportive alternatives, and here they are proposed." Seeing China as a second path to development.
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