Pompeo says China's Africa lending creates unsustainable debt burdens

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blasted China's lending policy to African countries on Wednesday, confirming Washington's allegations that this will lead to unsustainable debt burdens.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a speech at a China-Africa summit last week that Chinese financial institutions should consult with African countries to work out loan guarantee agreements with government guarantees, Fitch Ratings said in a report earlier Wednesday .
Xi told the summit that Beijing would free some African countries from repaying the interest-free loan due in late 2020 and would be ready to give priority to African countries once the COVID-19 vaccines were ready for use.
Pompeo, a persistent critic of China, accused Beijing of "empty promises and tired platitudes".
In a statement, Pompeo said Xi failed to provide real transparency and accountability for China's role in "releasing" the novel corona virus that started in China, and accused Beijing of "creating an unsustainable debt burden" in Africa.
Pompeo noted that China was "by far the largest bilateral creditor to African governments," and said that most US foreign aid was provided through grants rather than loans, "in a transparent, private-sector manner Promote economic growth that benefits all parties. "
According to Fitch, China's pledge to reduce the debt burden of some emerging market governments could reduce short-term liquidity pressures in countries struggling with the coronavirus pandemic.
Kenya, the Maldives, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Pakistan, Angola, Laos, Mozambique, Congo and Zambia were among the countries in which a large part of their debts owed to China and were eligible for relief.
Beijing has committed to participate in the Group of 20 Great Nations (G20) (DSSI) suspension of debt service initiative, which temporarily suspends debt repayment for 77 developing countries due between May and December.
(Reporting by Lisa Lambert and David Brunnstrom; editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Paul Simao)

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