JUBA – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China has dismissed as ‘malicious’ reports by the Ugandan media that it is taking over Entebbe International Airport, the only one of its kind in Uganda that operates internally, after the East African country defaulted on debts.
The reports by several news organizations in Ugandan said in November 2015, the Uganda government signed an agreement with Export-Import Bank of China (Exim Bank) to borrow $207 million at two per cent upon disbursement. The loan had a maturity period of 20 years including a seven-year grace period.
It has now emerged that the deal signed with the Chinese lenders virtually means Uganda “surrendered” its most prominent and only international airport.
The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority says some provisions in the Financing Agreement with China expose Entebbe International Airport and other Ugandan assets to be attached and taken over by Chinese lenders upon arbitration in Beijing.
It also emerged that China has rejected recent pleas by Uganda to renegotiate the toxic clauses of the 2015 loan, leaving Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s administration in limbo.
In statements published on the Chinese Embassy in South Sudan’s Facebook page, the Director-General at the Department of African Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, Wu Peng, said his country has never taken over any property in Africa and that the reports on Entebbe airport are being done of ‘malicious grounds’.
“Which of the Chinese projects in Africa have been confiscated in Africa? Amb. Peng asked. “NONE! The hype surrounding Chinese ‘debt trap’ in Africa have NO factual basis and is being pushed on malicious grounds.”
For his part, Assistant minister of foreign affairs of the People’s Republic of China, Wu Jianghao questioned the prevailing culture of regarding Chinese financial offers to African countries as debt traps.
“Why is money offered by Western countries to developing countries considered ‘assistance for development’, while the money offered by China is labeled as ‘debt trap’? This view is NOT logic or correct!” Mr. Jianghao said.