China-Mozambique Financing Cooperation is About Development
By Dong Feng
Aerial photo taken on April 8, 2019 shows the Maputo Bay Bridge in Maputo, Mozambique. The bridge is part of the Maputo Bridge and Link Roads project built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation, with Chinese standards and financing support. (Xinhua/Zhang Yu)
Mozambique's debt to China is moderate, and the current repayment situation is generally normal and sustainable. In response to a study by the Centre for Public Integrity in Mozambique on "hidden debt," both diplomat and expert have said that a debt status reality check needs to be carried out whilst keeping development in mind.
Zhou Yongsheng, a professor at China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Monday that the study is comparing the debt data in 2010 and 2018, without reviewing the social-economic development in Mozambique and the benefits to residential people.
China's financing cooperation with Mozambique has long adhered to the original intention of development.
"In recent years, China and Mozambique have adhered to a set of principles and been pioneers in accelerating bilateral financing cooperation," Wang Hejun, Chinese Ambassador to Mozambique told the Global Times. "So far, we have achieved a number of early gains in the fields of infrastructure, production capacity, investment and trade, which have brought tangible benefits to both sides."
These achievements have been welcomed and recognized by Mozambique, promoting China-Mozambique cooperation to be a model of China-Africa cooperation.
Looking at Mozambique's debt to China, we need to look at it in a connected, objective, and scientific way, said Wang.
"We need to acknowledge the recent development of Mozambique's financing cooperation with China, and its contribution to improving infrastructure and improving people's livelihoods, while enhancing its sustainable development capabilities," Wang elaborated.
The debt problem is essentially a development problem, and the solution is still development. The increase in Mozambique's debt to China is a manifestation of the in-depth bilateral cooperation, which has strengthened Mozambique's capacity for sustainable development, and has not become an obstacle to Mozambique's economic and social development. Therefore, the concept of a so-called debt trap is completely untenable, Wang stressed.
With a coastline of about 2,700 kilometers, Mozambique is adjacent to the Indian Ocean and has an outstanding geographical advantage. There are more than 10 good ports to be developed along the coast. Therefore, Mozambique is an important seaport and regional traffic corridor.
Besides, Mozambique's resource endowment is superior, its energy and mineral resources are rich, and the soil is fertile with a well-developed water system. There are 36 million hectares of arable land, offering unique conditions for agricultural development.
"African countries need to take full advantage of their mining resources and population," Zhou noted.
Once the infrastructure is in place, mining and agricultural products could be transported and capitalized upon, he added.
Young adults account for more than 80 percent of the total population so Mozambique has huge potential when it comes to human resources.
The top priority for Mozambique's development is to improve infrastructure conditions and promote natural resource development. The country needs to transform innate development advantages into real economic strengths, accelerating industrialization and agricultural modernization, and ultimately achieving sustainable development, Wang said.
If the debt data is accurate, the study is exaggerating the debt itself, ignoring the development fostered by Chinese investment and instead towing the propagandist line of Western media about the threat of China. It is misreading the China-Africa cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, Zhou concluded.