Chinese funding in Africa raises concerns of ability of nations to 'pay back' Beijing

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Representative Image
Representative Image

Beijing [China], May 24 (ANI): As China is funding and building a growing number of government and parliament buildings, police headquarters and more in Africa to cement its relations across the continent, concerns have been raised over the potential of African nations to 'pay back' Beijing.

According to South China Morning Post (SCMP), China is funding a building to house Kenya's foreign ministry after a similar promise to the Democratic Republic of Congo in January this year. The country is funding similar buildings in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Ethiopia, the latter of which generated protest from the United States.

There were also accusations that Beijing bugged the USD 200 million African Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa that opened in 2012, funded and built by China, which have been denied by the communist nation.

SCMP, citing French media, reported that in 2018, anonymous AU sources said that data had been transferred nightly from computers in the building to Chinese servers for five years and hidden microphones had also been found.

As such proceedings continue, concern has emerged over how African nations would 'pay back' China.

David Shinn, a professor at George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, said the facilities were being built by China under contract, while some were provided for free as 'gifts'.

When such buildings were provided for free it inevitably created a conflict of interest and it also raised questions about the potential for the facilities being bugged, Shinn opined.

"Any sensitive structure, like a presidential palace or foreign ministry, built by any foreign government raises questions of listening devices," he said.

Despite accusations of debt-trap diplomacy by Beijing, Chinese companies are winning a majority of mega projects in Africa and account for a large chunk of the revenue of all the major international contractors in the continent.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) persistently warns African and other third-world countries that mounting debts to China are dangerous. It stresses that Chinese creditors create some instability or vulnerabilities.

Economists have been urging African governments to ensure that they read the small print of the "conditionalities" defined by the Chinese. In their views, it would avoid Beijing lay claim to some of their assets, as they are doing in Madagascar, Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe. (ANI)