China Is Canceling the Debt of the World’s Most Impoverished Nations

Since the 1990s, a major part of Chinese foreign policy has been to invest in developing countries around the world.

This includes private investments, like the billion-dollar solar project being spearheaded by a Chinese energy company in Ghana or the multibillion-dollar canal being built by a Chinese infrastructure firm in Nicaragua.

It also includes public investment projects like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which was launched earlier this year to help fund infrastructure projects in impoverished Asian countries (and to reduce the amount of influence wielded by the U.S.-led investment banks).

On Saturday, Chinese President Xi Jinping made yet another commitment to help economic growth in the developing world, announcing that China would be canceling the debts of the world’s least developed countries.

President Xi made the announcement while addressing a United Nations summit on global development goals. During his speech, he also pledged to establish a $2 billion fund dedicated to improving conditions in the most impoverished countries around the world.

Sept. 26: Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit during the U.N. General Assembly in New York (Photo: AFP-JIJI)

Sept. 26: Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit during the U.N. General Assembly in New York (Photo: AFP-JIJI)

“Looking around the world, the peace and development remain the two major themes of the times,”

President Xi told attendees at the summit in New York. He continued,

“To solve various global challenges, including the recent refugee crisis in Europe, the fundamental solutions lie in seeking peace and realising development. Facing with various challenges and difficulties, we must keep hold of the key of the development. Only the development can eliminate the causes of the conflicts.”

Xi’s speech came a day after the UN unveiled its new Global Goals for Sustainable Development, an ambitious plan that aims to eradicate poverty and hunger in the next 15 years.

Coincidentally, China played a key role in helping the UN achieve its previous poverty reduction goals as well — BBC correspondent James Robbins explains,

It was China’s extraordinary record shifting so many families out the ranks of the poor which ensured that the overall global record in poverty reduction under the previous Millennium Development Goals was substantial.

China’s new pledge of financial support, as well as its promise to forgive the debts of the world’s poorest countries, show a continued commitment to the goal of reducing poverty worldwide.

“The world is going through a historical process of accelerated evolution. The sunshine of peace, development and progress will be powerful enough to penetrate the clouds of war, poverty and backwardness,”

President Xi said.

Read more from the BBC. Read a full transcript of President Xi’s speech from Quartz.

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