China to cancel Gambia’s debt, give zero-interest loans

China to cancel Gambia’s debt, give zero-interest loans

China and The Gambia on Tuesday signed a protocol that will see the debts of the West African state to the Southeast Asian nation dismissed.

Gambia’s Foreign Minister, Ousainou Darboe signed the agreement with China’s Deputy Commerce Minister, Qian Keming.

China’s President Xi Jinping announced a $60 billion debt relief and financing package to African countries during a China-Africa summit.

The pact will see The Gambia receive grants, zero-interest loans, and other concessional financings from China. The Gambia urgently need debt relief and another financing for development.

The UN has called on Gambia’s international partners to cancel its debt, which is far greater than the country’s GDP to give it a fresh start after emerging from decades of autocratic rule and financial mismanagement.

Darboe also held talks with China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi, with whom he signed several cooperation agreements between the two countries.

The Gambia dropped diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favor of China, which has pledged to build a multi-million dollar conference center and boost the country’s economy.

China considers Taiwan to be part of its territory, and it has sought to limit the self-ruled island’s international relationships and recognition.

Gambia, the smallest nation in continental Africa, has shifted between the two.

After independence from Britain in 1965, it recognized Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China.

Then, after Beijing took over China’s seat in the United Nations in 1971, Gambia shifted its recognition to the People’s Republic of China.

In 1995, one year after the ex-authoritarian leader Yahya Jammeh was installed in a coup, it switched back to recognizing Taiwan.

In 2013, Mr. Jammeh severed ties with Taiwan, which diplomats said was the result of Taiwan’s refusal to increase its foreign aid to the country.

Gambia and China have signed an agreement last month, agreeing to give Chinese good unrestricted access to the Gambian market.

Gambia agreed to waive duties on Chinese goods coming into the impoverished nation of fewer than two million people.

Gambia’s government has withdrawn legal charges against a Chinese fish meal company, Golden Lead to prevent angering Beijing.

Residents of the coastal fishing village of Gunjur have now taken it upon themselves to file a complaint at the High Court in Banjul for damages done to its ecosystem by the company, demanding a compensation of some $325,000 dollars.

(Reporting and Writing by Sam Phatey; Additional Reporting from NY Times; Editing by Alhagie Jobe)

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