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China writes off debt.

China has pledged to forgive more than $lbn worth of debts owed by the poorest African countries in an effort to boost development and strengthen ties with the continent. Foreign Trade Minister Shi Guangsheng's announcement came on the second day of a China-Africa forum that Beijing hopes will expand its influence in sub-Saharan Africa.

Forty-four African nations sent senior officials to the three-day meeting in Beijing. Liberia sent observers even though they have diplomatic relations with China's rival, Taiwan, rather than with Beijing. Aid, often low or zero interest loans repayable on flexible schedules, has been a pillar of Chinese relations with Africa.

China's government expressed hope that writing off a portion of its loans to Africa will encourage other countries and financial institutions to forgive the $320bn foreign debt. Whilst a generous gesture in itself, a sizeable proportion of the debt set for cancellation is debt that has more or less been written off.
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Publication:African Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Jan 1, 2001
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