According to the South China Morning Post, Du Xiaohui, China’s 16th ambassador to Zambia, arrived on April 17, when the East African nation faced a debt crisis.
Zambia is awaiting a decision from private lenders and the world’s 20 wealthiest nations on its application for debt relief under the G20’s common framework.
Ambassador Du Xiaohui is not directly involved in negotiations with African countries’ Chinese lenders. But hopes are up that he could make some influence.
As SCMP reported, Zambia is restructuring about 15 billion dollars of external debts as a precondition to securing 1.4 billion dollars in IMF loans.
Yun Sun, Director of the Stimson Centre’s China program in Washington, said one of the key issues for China-Zambia relations was debt, as Zambia struggled to repay Chinese loans.
Zambia, Africa’s second-largest copper producer, has become increasingly reliant on Chinese financing, which has backed many major infrastructure projects across the continent.
China makes up more than 6 billion dollars of the total amount for mega projects, including airports, highways, and power dams.
According to an estimation by the China Africa Research Initiative last September, the African nation owed 6.6 billion dollars to the Chinese public and private lenders, doubling the official 3.4 billion dollar amount declared by the previous Zambian government.
The figure did not include 2.5 billion dollars of contracted debt to Chinese contractors.
Fitch reported earlier this month that Zambia had not paid the majority of its outstanding external debt after failing to make a Eurobond interest payment in October 2020.
The country later said it would stop servicing all of its external debt, except for a few priority project loans, and filed a debt relief request.
During the International Monetary Fund’s spring conference this week, the G20 finance ministers will discuss the global economy, particularly the debt relief scheme’s progress.