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Contrary to Popular Perception, Zambia’s Debt Problem is With Global Capital Markets Not China

Although China is by far Zambia’s largest bilateral creditor, the total amount owed to Beijing is less than what Lusaka has to pay to Eurobond holders and various other private creditors. The outlook for 2022 is especially dire because sizable Eurobond repayments are due.

It is important to keep this context in mind because the Chinese proportion of Zambian debt receives much more attention on African social media and even in the White House. Factually incorrect references to Chinese “debt-trap diplomacy” in Zambia were included in the 2018 speech by then-National Security Advisor John Bolton, in which he announced the Prosper Africa strategy.

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