U.S. Secretary of State Blinken warns African countries against doing business with China over the concerns that China’s loans are enslaving Africans with debt
As part of ambitions to rule the world and overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy and superpower, China has slowly been expanding its influence around the world. Presently, China is involved in several infrastructure projects in at least 35 African countries. A concentration of these projects is to be found in Angola, Nigeria, and Sudan. The questions many experts are also asking is: Are Chinese infrastructure loans putting Africa on the debt-trap express?
However, most Africans don’t see China’s investments as a good thing. Instead, they view China as a new colonial power coming to take the continent’s rich resources and entrap them into more debts. As The Diplomat wrote, “Beijing’s new transnational infrastructure, like pipelines and highways, are viewed as initiatives to send more resources to the PRC. These projects are reported to deplete national treasuries.”
China has loaned billions of dollars to countries in Africa to build railways, highways, and airports but critics say the borrowings are unsustainable. But Chinese officials “say the projects will pay off in the long run and host nations are well aware of their limits and needs.”
The experts and the critics are not the only people concerned about China’s investments in Africa. On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken cautioned Africa about China’s role in the continent in virtual talks with Nigeria and Kenya. Responding to questions from someone in the audience, Blinken said he hoped African countries would keep their “eyes wide open” when approaching relationships with other nations.
“We’re not asking anyone to choose between the United States or China, but I would encourage you to ask those tough questions, to dig beneath the surface, to demand transparency, and to make informed choices about what is best for you and your countries.”
Blinken didn’t stop there. He also pointed to concerns that a number of nations have been saddled with unsustainable debts after taking Chinese loans, with Zambia last year defaulting.
“You should be looking hard at whether when other countries come in to build a big infrastructure project, are they bringing their own workers with them, or are they giving jobs to people in the country where they’re making investments?” Blinken asked.
On the part of the United States, “We believe in Africa. We believe in extraordinary potential. Your success is our success, and we want to invest in it but in the right way,” Blinken added.