China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi, put Africa’s debt concerns for China into perspective on Thursday when he arrived in Ethiopia, the first stop on a tour of 4 African countries.
China has invested heavily in infrastructure projects on the African continent in recent years, many of whose leaders see Beijing as a better trading partner than Western countries.
Mr. Wang dismissed concerns, often expressed by the latter, that debt to Beijing would not be sustainable in the long term for African states.
“In general, debt in Africa is a long-standing issue and a product of history,” he said. “It didn’t appear today, let alone caused by China.”
China is the largest bilateral infrastructure donor in Africa, exceeding the combined financing of the African Development Bank (AfDB), the European Union, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank and the G8.
“We know that in terms of funding, some African countries have encountered difficulties,” said the head of Chinese diplomacy at a press conference in Addis Ababa, who will then travel to Gambia, Senegal and Burkina Faso.
“China attaches great importance to it, as a good friend and brother of Africa,” he added. “We are always ready to make a gesture when African countries need it.”
Chinese foreign investment in sub-Saharan Africa amounted to $298 billion between 2005 and 2018, according to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) think tank.
Mr. Wang and his Ethiopian counterpart, Workneh Gebeyehu, welcomed the close ties between their two countries and ruled out any idea of a cooling of their relations since Ethiopian Reform Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in April 2018.
“We believe that the reform process in Ethiopia will further strengthen our ties with China,” Mr. Workneh said. “China will continue to be Ethiopia’s strategic partner.”