Washington and Beijing are competing for power in Africa, where Chinese banks are the biggest lenders.
The Chinese government says the United States should stop pressuring Beijing to pay back Zambia’s debt and focus on avoiding a government default at home, which could derail the global economy.
“The biggest contribution the U.S. can make to this country’s foreign debt is to solve its debt problem and stop destroying other independent countries to clear their debts,” the Chinese ambassador to Zambia said in a statement. Tuesday.
The US government has $31.4 trillion in borrowing capacity, and it reached the limit on Thursday.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has put in place “extraordinary measures” to ensure that the US government continues to pay its debts in the short term and then go to Africa. During a trip to Zambia, he said it was important to deal with the huge debt with China.
The country defaulted on a $42.5m loan in November 2020, becoming the first independent country in Africa to default during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It has taken far too long to resolve this issue,” Yellen said on Monday.
Washington is trying to influence African countries as the influence of rivals Russia and China grows.
During her trip to Africa, which also included Senegal and South Africa, Yellen pushed to expand US trade and business relations.
“The United States is in Africa, and they all have Africa,” Yellen said on Friday in Dakar as she presented the fruits of the US’s “beneficial approach” to Africa.
In response to Yellen, China intervened in the battle between Republican lawmakers and Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration on raising US debt to allow more borrowing to keep the government operating.
“Even if the US solves its debt problem one day, it is not appropriate to say or force other countries out of self-interest,” the Chinese ambassador said.
China’s development banks have emerged as the largest lenders to poor countries around the world in environmental, transportation and energy sectors despite the largest decline since 2016, according to Boston University’s Global Development Policy Center.
New loans fell to eight projects worth $3.7bn in 2021, down from a peak of 151 projects worth $80bn in 2016, according to the agency.
Currently, 22 low-income countries in Africa are already in debt or at high risk of becoming in debt, according to Chatham House in the UK. Chinese lenders account for 12 percent of Africa’s foreign and domestic debt, which increased fivefold to $696bn from 2000 to 2020.
Washington has repeatedly complained in recent weeks about Beijing’s cooperation with Moscow as Russia destroys Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in December said he hoped his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, would visit in 2023. If it were to happen, the visit would be a public show of cooperation on the war in Ukraine.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi defended China’s refusal to oppose the invasion of Ukraine and in December 2022 said the country would expand relations with Russia in the coming year.
He also criticized the US for straining relations between the world’s two largest economies, saying Beijing has “strongly rejected” Washington’s “wrong Chinese” policy of imposing trade and technology restrictions and criticized China for its human rights and diplomatic claims. in the Western Pacific.