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Georgetown’s Ken Ochieng’ Opalo is the Latest Scholar to Discredit the “Chinese Debt Trap” Theory in Africa

Comparisons between Chinese and World Bank concessional lending around the world. Graphic via the Center for Global Development.

Georgetown University Assistant Professor Ken Ochieng’ Opalo published a blog post on his personal site this weekend that aimed to debunk the widely-held perception in Washington that China is engaging in a form of “debt-trap diplomacy” in Africa.

Professor Ochieng’ Opalo, like his cross-town academic peer Deborah Brautigam at Johns Hopkins University, acknowledges that a certain proportion of Chinese infrastructure lending does align with Beijing’s geopolitical ambitions, but a lot of it is merely commercial. “My guess is that while Beijing certainly was out to buy influence with loans and other commercial relations, it also wanted to make money,” he wrote.

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