You remember Rex Tillerson, the former American diplomat that visited Nigeria sometime within the year?

At the time, he warned Nigeria and other African countries to beware of Chinese loans.

Another diplomat is saying the same again.

The head of the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation, OPIC, Ray Washburne said on Monday that China is saddling poor nations with unsustainable debt through large-scale infrastructure projects that are not economically viable.

Undoubtedly, China has been involved in the building of key infrastructure across Africa but whether those projects are not economically viable, as US claims, remains to be proven.

But in an interview with Reuters in Johannesburg, Washburne warned that the Chinese strategy created a debt trap for many poor nations.

“Just look at any project in these countries and they’re overbuilding the size. We try to have countries realise that they’re indebting themselves to the Chinese,” he said.

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Washburne and Tillerson are not the first to warn of growing debt linked to Chinese infrastructure projects.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde in April had cautioned China’s Belt and Road partners against considering the financing as “a free lunch”.

Washburne also voiced concern over a $360 million expansion of the airport in Zambia’s capital Lusaka currently being carried out with financing from the Exim Bank of China.

“The local economy isn’t benefiting from that. It’s a much too large airport. They’ll have too much debt on it. At some point, someone’s got to pay. Pay or the Chinese take control,” he said.

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