China steps back at Yellen over debt trap diplomacy

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China steps back at Yellen over debt trap diplomacy

China stepped back at U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen this week after she accused Beijing of being a debt reform barrier for Africa and told Washington to deal with its own debt problem. According to the Chinese Embassy in Zambia, the biggest contribution the U.S. can make to the debt issues outside the country is to act on responsible monetary policies, cope with its own debt problem and stop sabotaging other sovereign countries' efforts to solve their debt issues.

Yellen arrived in Zambia Sunday to address debt reform in Africa, along with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva.

U.S. officials have warned that China is looking at nations in Africa where it offers loans to poor nations which are unable to pay off the credit to keep them holden to Chinese interests, a scheme some have deemed debt trap diplomacy. In 2020, Zambia defaulted on its debt and made little progress in restructuring payments with China and private creditors, pushing its economy to the brink as poverty levels escalate.

The US is facing its own financial woes because Republicans risk defaulting on federal government debt because of the GOP's push to slash federal spending programs like Medicare and Social Security in the fight over the debt ceiling.

As U.S. lawmakers grapple with economy-based politics in Washington, Yellen has seen her own challenges during her three country trip to Africa, which is aimed at showing a commitment by the U.S. as a leading partner in the region.

Yellen's trip has been a hard sell by the Biden administration after aid to African nations was slashed under the Trump administration, due to economic hardship caused by the COVID epidemic and now the food shortages in Ukraine.

I don't know how I can give assurances, honestly, Yellen told Reuters when she traveled from Senegal to Zambia.

Yellen said both Democrats and Republicans have a vested interest in health and trade initiatives with African partners, but convincing African nations that Washington can be a reliable partner for the long haul is the ultimate challenge.