BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Asia-Pacific
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Wednesday, 11 October, 2000, 07:41 GMT 08:41 UK
China gives Africa debt relief

China and South Africa recently agreed to increase trade
By Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Beijing

China has announced it will cancel more than $1bn worth of debt owed to it by poor African countries, as part of a package aimed at helping Africa to develop.

African woman
Large debts are crippling poor countries
The announcement came on the second day of the first ever China-Africa forum, which is being held in Beijing.

China's whole purpose in holding this forum in Beijing is to demonstrate the strength of its commitment to the African continent.

The debt relief will no doubt be welcomed by those African countries concerned, but it represents only a tiny fraction of Africa's overall debt.

Commitment beyond rhetoric

The package of measures announced on Tuesday is aimed at showing that that commitment goes beyond simple rhetoric.

African child
Seven million children die worldwide because of debt, aid groups say
In addition to forgiving more than $1bn over the next two years, the Chinese Government has committed itself to gradually increasing its level of aid to Africa.

It will also offer incentives to Chinese companies to invest in projects in African countries.

Nevertheless, this package is still largely symbolic.

Africa's struggle
130,000 children die every week in Africa
1 in 7 babies in Mali die before one year old
Africa spends four times as much on debt repayments as on health care
Africa as a whole owes more than $300bn in debt, most of it to western countries.

Sino-African trade is tiny compared to African trade with the West, and Chinese investment in the continent is almost non-existent.

But by cancelling some of Africa's debt, China has put itself on the moral high ground when calling on western countries to do the same with the much larger quantities of debt owed to them.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

10 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
China woos Africa
25 Apr 00 | Africa
China-SA landmark deal
23 Jun 00 | Africa
Africa presses for debt relief
31 May 00 | Business
African economies 'in reverse'
17 Dec 99 | debt
The burden of debt
Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories