• Continued build-up of tensions between Government and China in as far as debt restructuring is concerned is worrying.
• China has been a weather friend to the people of Zambia.
• It will be in the best interest of Zambia to maintain warm relations between the West and China.
A Political Party has called for dialogue between Zambia and China with regards to the country’s debt restructuring process.
Golden Party of Zambia President Jackson Silavwe said the continued build-up of tensions between Zambia and China concerning debt restructuring is worrying, therefore the need for swift dialogue.
Mr. Silavwe stated that China has been an all-weather friend to Zambia as it has continued to demonstrate warm bilateral and multilateral relations with successive Governments.
He said China has invested heavily in all the major sectors of Zambia’s economy, noting that in 2020, trade between the two countries exceeded more the 5 billion United States dollars, hence Zambia cannot avoid to do business with China.
“As a party we have expressed our strong reservations about Chinese businesses taking over businesses that can easily be done by Zambians. Nonetheless, a Government that has a different approach to grow Zambian businesses can address that anomaly swiftly. However, China has been a weather friend to the people of Zambia. It was the Chinese that stood with us during the construction of TAZARA when the White Minority Government of Southern Rhodesia now Zimbabwe declared blocked the southern corridor to Zambia.”
“Over the years, China has continued to demonstrate warm bilateral and multilateral relations with successive Zambian Governments with the climax being the State visit of Former President of the People’s Republic of China Hu Jintao in 2007,” Mr. Silavwe said.
Mr. Silavwe further stated that it will be in the best interest of Zambia to maintain warm relations between the West and China, even if the new administration maybe Western centric.
“President Hichilema and the New Dawn Administration maybe Western centric but they cannot deal with China in a nonchalant way. The New Dawn Administration risks greatly disadvantaging itself if it proceeds in this manner. Zambia has a lot to learn from China in terms of lifting i’s citizens out of poverty. Zambia needs China, we call for dialogue,” he added.
Of Zambia’s external debt, 46% is owed to private lenders, 22% to China, 8% to other governments and 18% to multilateral institutions.
According to Jubilee Debt Campaign, China is among the government lenders to agree a longer debt repayment schedule that private lenders, including banks, have so far resisted.
Negotiations on the debt restructuring are due to take place in April and G20 Finance Ministers will also be meeting on 20th April, during the IMF Spring Meetings, to discuss the progress of the debt relief scheme, the Common Framework.