Beijing rejects World Bank criticism on loans to African countries

25 October 2006

Beijing, China, 25 Oct – The Chinese government Tuesday repudiated the criticism of the president of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, who told the international press that China’s financial aid to Africa compromised the social development and environmental protection on the continent.

“China cannot accept a comment that says that financial assistance to Africa weakens the situation of human rights in Africa,” said Liu Jianchao, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry, in a routine press conference in response to Wolfowitz’s comments published in the Financial Times.

Loans from Chinese banks to Africa, Wolfowitz said, ignored the “Equador Principles,” a voluntary commitment that requires privately financed development projects to comply with social and environmental standards.

Wolfowitz also said he was concerned about loans from China, India and Venezuela to developing countries, saying that, “there is a real risk of seeing countries that have benefited from debt pardons becoming highly indebted once again.”

Liu denied the accusations of the World Bank president saying that the cooperation between China and Africa “has been positive, based on equality and mutual benefits, with the aim of promoting social and economic development and improving the quality of life of African populations.”

The Chinese government has been opening up an increasing number of credit lines to African countries, as a consequence of China’s increasing strategic interest in Africa, as the Chinese economy searches for alternative sources of oil and gas and tries to find new markets for Chinese companies and products.

Between November 3 and 5 Beijing is to host the head of state and government summit of the Sino-African Cooperation Forum (FOCAC), and representatives of 48 African countries have confirmed they will attend. (macauhub)

MACAUHUB FRENCH