Updated: March 2, 2021
Zambia has denied claims by the United States’ National Security Adviser, John Bolton, that China was about taking over its state power utility to recover escalating debts.
Bolton, who announced President Trump’s radical new policy for Africa on Thursday, claimed that China was poised to take over utility company Zesco to collect the $6-10 billion debt.
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He warned that China was using debts to trap many African countries and would eventually take over national assets to recover them.
He said the debt traps, along with weapons supplied by Russia would eventually destabilize Africa.
Bolton cited the cases of Djibouti and Zambia, two countries heavily indebted to China.
But Zambian presidential spokesman Amos Chanda told Reuters China was not planning to take over Zesco, and that Zambia’s total external debt was $9.7 billion including $3.1 billion owed to China.
China jumped on the denial by Zambia to blast the United States, saying that it was not the first time America was caught pant down, and should learn from its blunders.
“I hope the they can learn a lesson and reflect on things, and going forward not blurt things out again,” Reuters quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying as saying at a news conference in Beijing.
In June, as Zambia’s debts continue to explode, the government decided to delay all borrowing indefinitely amid worries about the risk of debt distress.
Bolton on Thursday that the United States would counter “corrupt” and “predatory” China and Russia in Africa with trade.