0419 GMT January 23, 2019
US National Security Advisor John Bolton alleged on Thursday that Beijing’s quest for more power in Africa was evident in nations like Zambia, where he said China was poised to take over utility company Zesco to get back the “$6-10 billion” it had allocated in debt to the African country.
“In Africa, we are already seeing the disturbing effects of China’s quest to obtain more political, economic, and military power,” Bolton claimed.
In response to the allegations, Zambia’s presidential spokesman Amos Chanda said that the figure provided by Bolton was wrong. He explained that the country’s total external debt was now $9.7 billion, including $3.1 billion owed to China, Presstv Reported.
“It is regrettable that such information can come from such a high-ranking official. In fact, Zesco is not within the scheme of Zambia’s debt to China,” he was quoted by Reuters as saying.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying also told a news briefing on Monday that it was not the first time an American official had been caught out on this kind of issue, though she gave no details on that.
“I hope that they can learn a lesson and reflect on things, and going forward not blurt things out again,” Hua said.
Botlon had also accused China of making a “strategic use of debt to hold states in Africa captive to Beijing’s wishes and demands.” He further claimed China’s investment ventures are riddled with corruption, and do not meet the same environmental or ethical standards as US developmental programs.
China, Africa’s largest trading partner, has already provided many countries in the continent with billions of dollars in aid and loans for roads, railways, ports and other major infrastructure projects.
It overtook the US almost a decade ago by turning into to Africa’s largest trading partner. According to official statistics, bilateral China-Africa trade reached a record-high of $220 billion in 2014.