China secretly writes off some of the debts of Cameron


Illustration Illustration - Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi met Cameroon President Paul Biya in the capital city of Yaounde last month and resulted an agreement to abolish part of their debt to China. However, the agreement hardly concerns the media. China did not issue a press release at the time. The Cameroon government also did not mention the cancellation of debt in a press release related to Yang's visit.

However, when a Chinese news report accused Beijing of removing 3 trillion Central African francs or about USD 5.2 billion of Cameroon's debt on Yang's trip, the agreement was again discussed. That number turned out to be wrong. According to the China Africa Research Initiative (CARI), the figure of USD 5 billion is approaching Cameroon's total loan from Beijing since 2000 and exceeds the debt it believes is owned by the country.

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While the news report was wrong, the news had forced the Chinese government to speak out regarding the actual agreement reached. Quoted from CNN, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hua Chunying said last week that China agreed to abolish intergovernmental interest-free debt that Cameroon had not paid at the end of 2018.

The debt that was written off was valued at USD 78.4 million. According to IMF data, currently the total Cameroon government debt is USD 5.8 trillion. Of that amount, it seems to be a debt to China. Thus, the elimination of debt is only a small part of Cameroon's responsibility to pay to China.


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