An FT story published over the weekend injected a burst of rare optimism into the African debt relief discussion. The article by U.S.-based Markets Correspondent Camilla Hodgson reported on last Tuesday’s remarks by Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian that Beijing had reached debt relief settlements with half of the countries who’ve applied for relief under the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative. “Now we have received debt relief requests from over 20 countries, and have reached an agreement with more than 10 of them by the end of July,” said Zhao at his regular press briefing.
This is potentially a significant breakthrough in a process that has moved much slower than African leaders and other stakeholders had hoped. While the news that China has concluded agreements with ten countries is widely seen as progress, it’s nonetheless hard to tell for sure since other than Zhao’s brief, and quite general comments on the issue last week Beijing’s failed to provide any other details.
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