China has reportedly said that it has “no plans to seize any Zimbabwean assets” despite Zimbabwe failing to settle debt arrears.
According to the privately-owned Zimbabwe Independent newspaper, this came as China tried to downplay and reject “the oft-repeated charge that it is building a colonial empire in Africa in the same way European powers did in the 19th century”.
The Chinese diplomat from the Chinese embassy in Harare was quoted saying that the Asian powerhouse’s loan deals did not involve host countries mortgaging their resources to China.
He further said the West was spreading the claims as it feared China’s involvement in Africa and elsewhere.
“In the case of Zimbabwe, there is no mortgage of resources for now between China and Zimbabwe, and we never force any conditions on any country. We are equal, and we are brothers and sisters,
“Zimbabwe has debts and arrears to China, have we seized any assets? We have never done that. I can tell you we will never seize assets from Zimbabwe, although there are arrears to China.” he added.
“We provided loans to Zimbabwe and many other African countries. I admit the debt burden is increasing, but we never seize assets,” said the diplomat.
The report said that Harare owed Beijing up to $300m in arrears from previous loans.
China was Africa’s largest trading partner, and it also sought closer military ties.