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China Reportedly Signs MoU with Benin to Partially Forgive Western African Nation's Debt

© AFP 2023 / YANICK FOLLYBenin's President Patrice Talon (R) shakes hands with China's Foreign Minister Qin Gang during a meeting at the Marina Palace in Cotonou on January 13, 2023.
Benin's President Patrice Talon (R) shakes hands with China's Foreign Minister Qin Gang during a meeting at the Marina Palace in Cotonou on January 13, 2023.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.01.2023
On January 9, the recently appointed Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang started his week-long tour to the African continent as his first overseas trip in this position. During the trip, which is scheduled to end on January 16, the minister was expected to visit a range of African countries, including Ethiopia, Gabon, Angola, Benin, and Egypt.
China and Benin have signed a memorandum of understanding on partial debt cancellation during Chinese foreign minister's visit to the West African nation earlier this week, according to media reports.
During his visit, the minister met with Beninese President Patrice Talon, as well as held talks with the country's Foreign Minister Aurelien Agbenonci. The meetings took place at the Marina Palace in Cotonou on January 13.
The two sides signed various cooperation documents, including on people-to-people and cultural exchanges. As for debt cancellation, there was reportedly no exact information on when the countries would reach a final agreement and how much debt would be canceled.
According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the visit "demonstrated the friendly and close ties" between Benin and China. Its aim was to enhance cooperation between the two countries in various fields of mutual interest, in particular economic and industrial ties, to “take China-Benin relations to new levels.”
"My proposal is that we work together to promote synergy between Benin's strategic development plan and the Belt and Road Initiative and the achievements of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, in order to identify more fields of action and growth rates for our cooperation," Qin Gang said, as cited by the media.
The ministry said in a statement that China is grateful to Benin for its understanding and support on issues concerning the core interests of the Asian state, and is determined to remain Benin's "sincere partner" in order to "forge ahead together in development."
Gang's visit to Benin came shortly after the 50th anniversary of the resumption of diplomatic relations between Benin and China, which was celebrated in December 2022. The relations between the two countries were first established in 1964. However, they were severed as Benin recognized the Republic of China (Taiwan) in 1966. Benin and mainland China reestablished diplomatic relations in 1972.
During his trip to Africa, the Chinese top diplomat also signed an agreement to partially forgive Ethiopia’s debt, according to the African country’s media. He stated that China is ready to help and support the people of Ethiopia after conflict in Tigray, urging the international community to increase the scale of humanitarian assistance for the country.
Apart from that, during his visit to the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, he rejected allegations that "Chinese debt trap" was developing on the African continent. He underlined that the so-called "debt trap" is a false narrative, which was intentionally imposed on the cooperation between China and African countries.
China's Foreign Minister Qin Gang (2nd L) and Moussa Faki (2nd R), Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, tour the building of African CDC (Centers for Disease Control) headquarters during the inauguration ceremony in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on January 11, 2023. - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.01.2023
Chinese FM Qin Gang Rejects ‘Unreasonable’ Allegation That China Is Creating ‘Debt Trap’ in Africa
In November, China provided $7.1 million (50 million Yuan) in debt relief to Rwanda, writing off a loan that was taken by the African country’s government to construct the Masaka-Kabuga road. The debt cancellation is part of China’s President Xi Jinping's economic package that announced at the Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.
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