CHINESE President Xi Jinping met his Zambian counterpart Hakainde Hichilema in Beijing on Friday, state media reported, as the heavily indebted African nation works to shore up ties with its leading creditor.
China also holds huge stakes in Zambia’s mining sector.
Beijing had launched a major infrastructure drive including new airports, roads and energy projects before Hichilema stepped into office in 2021.
But Hichilema has enjoyed an increasingly close relationship with the United States, with President Joe Biden hailing his commitment to democracy at successive US-Africa and democracy summits.
On Friday, Xi said China and Zambia’s friendship had “withstood the test of international storms and changes”, according to a readout published by state broadcaster CCTV.
“China is willing to transform that friendship into an inexhaustible impetus for win-win cooperation in the new era, and to move relations between the two countries steadily forward,” he said.
According to the readout, Hichilema said Zambia admired China’s role “in actively promoting change in the global order so that the global South can take its rightful place in the world”.
Zambia, whose total debt amounted to $32.8 billion at the end of 2022, defaulted on its $18.6 billion foreign debt in 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The nation became the first on the continent to default on its foreign debt since the start of the pandemic.
A restructuring deal involving foreign lenders and covering about a third of the tab was struck in late June following a two-day Paris summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron.