Fiji owes $374.9m to Exim Bank, but China says ‘no strings’ attached to aid

The Export-Import Bank of China
The Export-Import Bank of China . . . China's aid to Fiji includes building roads, bridges, jetties, schools, hospitals, stadiums, hydropower stations and "many other facilities". Image: Imaginechina

By Shayal Devi in Suva

Fiji owes the Export-Import (Exim) Bank of China about $374.9 million, states the Ministry of Finance’s government debt report for the third quarter of 2022/2023.

This comes as China has drawn a spate of criticism regarding the motivations behind its assistance to Pacific island countries.

The Chinese Embassy in Fiji says all assistance provided has been based on the requests of Pacific Island countries aimed to make people’s lives better.

Fiji’s total debt stands at $9.6 billion, and Fiji’s debt to China amounts to about 3.8 percent of total debt, and 10.5 percent of external debt.

In response to the claims, the Chinese Embassy in Fiji issued a statement saying China was committed to providing all possible assistance to other developing countries within the framework of South-South co-operation.

The statement also said the country never attached any “political strings” and fully respected the wishes and needs of recipient countries.

“Since the 1980s, China has been assisting Fiji in many areas on the basis of the Fijian government requests, including building roads, bridges, jetties, schools, hospitals, stadiums, hydropower stations and many other facilities,” the statement read.

“China often takes into account the debt-paying ability and solvency of recipient countries, so avoiding creating too high a debt burden to recipient countries.”

The embassy also stated all relevant projects were conducted with careful feasibility studies and market research to ensure they delivered the desired economic and social benefits.

“It’s clear that China’s foreign loans is reasonable and helpful, not the cause of the debt crisis of any other countries.”

Shayal Devi is a Fiji Times reporter. Republished with permission.

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