$3.1bn loan: China denies plot to take over Nigeria

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The sovereignty clause in Nigeria’s loan agreements with China is not designed to hijack the West African nation, the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria has said.

The embassy added that concerns raised over the clause were therefore unfounded.

According to a Thursday statement signed by the Embassy’s Press Officer, Mr. Sun Saixiong, the southeast Asian nation genuinely took interest in investment and financial cooperation in Africa.

Recall that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration and Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi have recently come under severe criticism for purportedly signing away Nigeria’s sovereignty as a precondition to get loans from China.

Denying the allegation, the Embassy’s statement read, “China is committed to enhancing investment and financial cooperation with African countries based on their needs to help them improve infrastructure and extradite socioeconomic development.

“By funding infrastructure and other areas that lag behind for short of money, we have helped the relevant countries break bottlenecks, enhance their capacity for independent development, realize social and economic sustainable development, and improve people’s livelihood.

“Such cooperation has delivered tangible benefits to African countries and peoples. In the process, China always gives full consideration to debt sustainability and seeks mutually-acceptable proposals through equal and friendly consultations.

“That is the fundamental reason behind the enormous popularity of China-Africa cooperation in Africa. And such cooperation is widely welcomed by African countries.”

According to the Debt Management Office (DMO), Nigeria is currently indebted to China to the tune of $3.121 billion as of March 31, 2020.

This, the office said, represents 3.94 per cent of Nigeria’s total public debt of $79.303 billion, and 11.28 per cent of external debt stock of $27.67 billion.

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In a further explanation, Saixiong reiterated that China has no interest in taking over Nigeria’s property as feared in many quarters.

“The inclusion of Sovereignty clause is a common practice in many international commercial agreements,” he told The Nation.

“We see the issue as more of Nigeria’s internal affairs. China follows the approach of no interference in African countries’ pursuit of development paths that fit their national conditions; no interference in African countries’ internal affairs.

“The terms of the loans have been explained, we don’t need to say anything on the clause.”

He added, “Such a debate on loans is not the first time it will come up in Nigeria and other African countries. China will never seek hegemony and we are not out to take over any country.”

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