China and Africa: A Lesson for Ranjan

“One Mr X”, 23 August 2022, responding to a Challenge extended within A Comment By Brig. Ranjan de Silva in X’s NOTE in the essay by Benjamin Norton …………………………. https://thuppahis.com/2022/08/22/china-jettisons-23-loans-to-african-states-wunderbar/#more-65196 

I am glad Brigadier (Rtd) Ranjan de Silva has found time to ask for the names of the 17 countries as it enables me to expand on the context relating to this announcement which is important to understand.

The Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Li made the announcement for debt forgiveness to African countries on 18 August (just six days ago) in remarks he made at the Coordinators’ Meeting on the Implementation of the Follow-up Actions of The Eighth Ministerial Conference of The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

Those attending the meeting included the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Senegal, representatives of the sub-regional members of the Bureau of the Assembly of the African Union, representatives of the African Co-Chairs of FOCAC, the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, and Ambassadors of African embassies in Beijing. In other words, the audience were senior African officials, diplomats and members of the African Union.

To read the remarks made by State Councilor Wang Li, go to  https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/zxxx_662805/202208/t20220819_10745617.html#:~:text=China%20will%20always%20be%20Africa’s,and%20seeking%20strength%20through%20unity

It is important to note that the main purpose of Wang’s speech was not to announce debt forgiveness, but to reaffirm China’s policy towards Africa, which has been well received by African leaders.

In his speech, Wang said China opposes “unwarranted interference and unilateral sanctions against Africa” and reaffirms its commitment to “upholding the purposes of the UN Charter, and advocating multilateralism and international fairness and justice”. Unlike the US which favours unilateralism, China favours multilateralism which enables all countries to have a voice in international relations and to not treat African countries as if they were colonies to be exploited for their own benefit which is what the US and European countries are doing.

Wang also talked about working with African countries on Covid-19 to provide Africa with 189 million doses of vaccines to 27 African countries and to provide African nations with the equipment and knowledge necessary to produce their own vaccinees.

Wang also reported that China has signed letters with 12 African countries on zero tariff for 98% of their export items to China which makes African goods more competitive, helps African economies, and provides these goods to China.  While the US is telling African countries to stop trading with Russia as if Africa was a US colony, China is pushing efforts to increase imports from Africa, support the greater African agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

Wang also mentioned China will support the African Union to join the G20 to encourage global south voices in the G20 which are dominated by imperialist countries in the Global North. We should all welcome the African Union into the G20.

The bit about debt forgiveness for African countries appears towards the end of Wang’s speech as a tiny point. As this was an announcement to African leaders of a decision made by the Chinese government, it was not necessary for him to specify the countries, especially as the audience were entirely made up of Africans.

It is worth noting that American academics at mainstream universities like John Hopkins and the Harvard Business School – which are right wing institutions and certainly not anti-Imperialist institutions – have themselves very reluctantly acknowledged that China does not engage in debt trap diplomacy, and unlike the US, has forgiven and restructured billions of dollars of loans for countries in the global south.

The key difference between US and European loans on the one hand, and loans from China on the other hand, is that US and European loans are determined  by corporations based on the private capitalist model while China’s loans are determined by a socialist government model, not by Chinese corporations or private business interests.

Other American academics such as Deborah Brautigam and Meg Rithmire, who also work for right wing think tanks, have also reluctantly acknowledged China doesn’t engage in debt trap diplomacy and has proven to be willing to restructure loans, much more than the US and European countries.  See https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2021/02/china-debt-trap-diplomacy/617953/

My question to the Brigadier is what exactly is your point?

His second comment is pointless and doesn’t deserve a response.

     **********

ALSO NOTE

AND especially

5 Myths About Chinese Investment in Africa

A NOTE from The Editor, Thuppahi 

One Mr X’s MEMO is too informative to be relegated to a comments section of this web site. Also note that the highlighting is his work, not mine.

As for the pseudonym: “One Mr. X” lives in a Western land fronting the Indian Ocean and has linguistic skills straddling Malaysia, Vietnam and China. This location and set of capacities means that he could become a target for Western security agencies — including their unorthodox arms. 

FURTHER CONTESTATION …….. RESPONSES FROM “One Mr X”  24 Augugst 2022 To Ranjan’s Challenges

X -(1)  Please name the 17 countries whose debts China has forgiven.

This answer has already been provided. So far it has only just been announced. Further details will follow. This is normal practice when governments make announcement.  Again I ask you, what is your point in asking this question?
(2) And the 23 loans.
What is your point? 
(3) How can China forgive Sri Lanka’s debts coming from India or US?
This is nonsense. Did I say that?   I can’t remember writing such a thing.
(4) On forgiving debts. It is not wise to forgive debts without examining the causes that led to failure and ensuring measures are taken to correct them.The most common reason is corruption.If a creditor forgives debt without taking this step, he is encouraging more and more mismanagement. In the end the debtor becomes a pawn in his hands.This is one way of neo-colonialism. The correct way to lend is to help the debtor improve his capacity to govern himself. A look at Vietnam may help.
I dont accept your argument here.
Do you think Vietnam is not corrupt?
(5) I have declared my identity. Please declare yours.Its courtesy.
I don’t have to declare that and Michael knows why. Many people on Thuppahi use pseudonyms. If Michael makes it compulsory for identities to be revealed, then he is free to do so. As far as I know he hasn’t. That you decided to disclose your identity is your choice, but it doesn’t follow that others should be obligated to do so as well.

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One response to “China and Africa: A Lesson for Ranjan

  1. Mr X.

    Michael,

    I guess your good friend is picking up on Western media reports stating Wang Li “failed to disclose the names of the countries” as if there is some dark agenda behind his non disclosure. That type of language, which is typically used by Western journalists, implies he is not being open, which is unfair and untrue. If you read Wang’s speech, and understand the context in which it was given, it wasn’t necessary for him to list all 17 countries and 23 loans in his announcement, neither did he list all the items for which tarrifs were being lifted. It is not appropriate to give such details in this type of announcement which was to an audience of senior African representatives. Such data is released later in written reports.

    The details of the loans will emerge in due course and no doubt published in reports by right wing institutions such as John Hopkins. So it perfectly relevant to ask your friend, what is the point in asking this question? If he doesn’t understand the context of the announcement, then there is nothing more to be said.

    I would suggest he read John Hopkins reports which appear from time to time giving details of the loans being waved by China and the countries involved and I am sure John Hopkins will publish a further report in the next year. They track China’s loans very carefully. John Hopkins is one of the institutions which has acknowledged that China doesn’t trap countries and that China’s debt forgiveness programs are fair.

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