HARARE – The United States does not have authority to criticize the relationship that China has with African countries and statements attributed to top Washington diplomat, Rex Tillerson, advising against receiving Chinese loans are misplaced, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday.
Tillerson, who is on a five nation African tour, was quoted criticizing the way Beijing structured loans to African countries.
He also said Chinese investments did not lead into significant job creation in Africa.
“We are not in any way attempting to keep Chinese dollars from Africa.
But it is important that African countries carefully consider the terms of those agreements and not forfeit their sovereignty,” Tillerson told a news conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Thursday.
But, Lavrov, who was in Zimbabwe, said the statement by Tillerson was inappropriate.
“I did not know that Rex Tillerson was a specialist in China-African ties. But I do not think it is entirely appropriate if he indeed said that,” said Lavrov.
“I do not think it was appropriate to criticize the relations of his hosts, since he was a guest.”
Lavrov added; “We never meddle within the domestic affairs of any other country, even though we hear allegations to the contrary on a daily basis from Washington and other Western countries.”
Although the US is the leading provider of humanitarian aid to Africa, China surpassed it to become Africa’s largest trading partner in 2009.
Beijing has also pumped billions into massive infrastructure projects throughout the African continent.
At the sixth Forum on China-Africa Co-operation held in South Africa in 2015, China promised $60 billion in loans and grants to Africa spread over three years.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Lieutenant General Sibusiso Moyo (Rtd) weighed in saying the remarks by the US were misplaced.
“Africa has its own self determination in terms of charting its own course, in terms of economic co-operation with any member of nations in the international arena,” he said.
China has stepped up its economic co-operation with Harare and is funding investment projects running into billions of dollars spread across different sectors of the Zimbabwean economy.
The deals include financing for the expansion of Hwange Power Station, construction of a new Parliament building and a pharmaceutical warehouse, expansion of a national fiber optic broadband project and provision of wildlife monitoring equipment.
Zimbabwe and China have also agreed to cooperate in the aviation sector as well as in promoting investment. – New Ziana