China to promote debt sustainability in developing nations - vice commerce minister

Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Qian Keming holds a news conference in Beijing
Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Qian Keming attends a news conference in Beijing, China January 29, 2021. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo

BOAO, China, April 19 (Reuters) - China will promote debt sustainability in developing countries through its Belt and Road Initiative, Qian Keming, a vice minister of commerce, said on Monday at the Boao Forum in the country's southern province of Hainan.

China will promote projects in developing countries that generate steady cashflows and profits, said Qian.

"We will push forward debt sustainability in developing countries," Qian said, adding that Beijing would also promote green, low-carbon projects and build high-standard infrastructure projects to reduce their environmental impact.

Some developing countries face rising debt risks, said Qian, but China has not forced poor countries to repay debt and has adjusted repayments based on their conditions.

If countries choose debt restructuring, their credit ratings could be affected and the cost of funding will rise, he said.

China has extended debt relief to developing countries under the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) as African countries, hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic, face another debt crisis.

Chinese loans play a key role in Africa. China's government, banks and companies lent some $143 billion to Africa from 2000 to 2017, according to Johns Hopkins University.

A third of the $30.5 billion of public debt service payments due in 2021 by DSSI-eligible nations in sub-Saharan Africa is owed to official Chinese creditors with another 10% linked to the China Development Bank, the Institute of International Finance has calculated.

Reporting by Kevin Yao in Boao, China

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