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China's ambassador to Kenya addresses media

By Lucie Morangi in Nairobi | | Updated: 2019-05-23 06:05
Churchill Otieno (right), the chairman of the Kenya Editors Guild, presents a gift to China's ambassador to Kenya Wu Peng during a luncheon in Nairobi. Lucie Morangi/China Daily

Debt, trade, the Belt and Road Initiative and the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation, or FOCAC, were among topics that China's ambassador to Kenya addressed at a luncheon with the Kenya Editors' Guild Press Club in Nairobi.

"Public opinions differ due to various reasons, but on the Chinese side, we always cherish the China-Kenya partnership. China-Kenya diplomatic relations are more than five decades, and it is like a big tree, with deep roots and thick foliage," said Wu.

He said no country has been trapped in a debt crisis due to its cooperation with China and added that loan agreements between China and Kenya are in line with international best practices.

"China's funding to Kenya, and other developing countries, is aimed at development. China always attaches high importance to debt sustainability and rigorous feasibility studies and evaluation have been undertaken before loans are disbursed," Wu said.

He acknowledged concerns in the media about so-called secrecy clauses.

"None of Kenya's national assets has been mortgaged for the SGR loan (the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Rail), neither would any single Kenyan national asset be seized nor controlled by China, even in a situation of default," said Wu.

Despite the significance of infrastructure in accelerating regional connectivity, the ambassador said funding of its extension was not part of the agenda during President Uhuru Kenyatta's recent visit to Beijing, during the BRI International forum. Discussions between China's President Xi Jinping and his Kenyan counterpart centered on construction of an industrial and economic zones, he disclosed.

China is Kenya's leading trade partner with total exports to the country in 2018 at $3.7 billion.

Economic cooperation between Kenya and China also has strengthened, with China providing technical and financial funding to the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Rail, the largest infrastructure since Kenya's independence.

There are more than 400 Chinese companies in Kenya, which have created thousands of jobs, said the ambassador.

Macharia Gaitho, a trustee of the Kenya Editors' Guild Press Club, urged leading media to establish presence in China to provide balanced coverage from both countries, he said. "China-Kenya conversation needs to be told by journalists, who deeply understand the different political, economic and cultural landscapes," said Macharia.

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