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Post by 8DonCo Tue Nov 07, 2023 4:42 pm

Developing countries owe China at least $1.1 trillion – and the debts are due

Hong KongCNN — 
Developing countries owe Chinese lenders at least $1.1 trillion, according to a new data analysis published Monday, which says more than half of the thousands of loans China has doled out over two decades are due as many borrowers struggle financially.

Overdue loan repayments to Chinese lenders are soaring, according to AidData, a university research lab at William & Mary in Virginia, which found that nearly 80% of China’s lending portfolio in the developing world is currently supporting countries in financial distress.

For years, Beijing marshalled its finances toward funding infrastructure across poorer countries – including under an effort that Chinese leader Xi Jinping branded as his flagship “Belt and Road Initiative,” which launched a decade ago this fall.

That funding flowed liberally into roads, airports, railways and power plants from Latin America to Southeast Asia and helped power economic growth among borrowing countries. Along the way, it drew many governments closer to Beijing and made China the world’s largest creditor, while also sparking accusations of irresponsible lending.

Now, 55% of China’s official sector loans to developing countries have entered their repayment periods, according to the analysis of more than two decades of China’s overseas funding across 165 countries released by AidData.

Those debts are coming due during a new and challenging financial climate of high interest rates, struggling local currencies and slowing global growth.

“A lot of these loans were issued during [the Belt and Road period starting in 2013] and they came with five- or six- or seven-year grace periods … and then [international debt suspension efforts during the pandemic] tacked on two additional years of grace where borrowers didn’t have to repay,” AidData executive director and report author Brad Parks told CNN.
“Now the story is changing … for the last decade or so China was the world’s largest official creditor, and now we’re at this pivot point where it’s really about (China) as the world’s largest official debt collector,” he said.

AidData’s figures are based on its database tracking what amounts to $1.34 trillion in loan and grant commitments from China’s government and state-owned creditors to public and private sector borrowers in low- and middle-income countries between 2000 and 2021.

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