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The Maastricht Diplomat

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[Al Jazeera] Eswatini: Lone nation in Africa's fight for sovereignty amid Chinese investment

Eswatini on Friday stood alone against China in African Union (AU) talks over Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) on Friday morning, as analysts say more Chinese investment in the continent seems inevitable.

As the biggest threat to African sovereignty Eswatini cited political interference, in an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera. The Southern African state warned fellow members of a harmful “dept-trap diplomacy” coming from China. Other nations of the union showed open disagreement with the statement, insisting that allegations against China had no ground and pushing for an economic solution of the continent's debt crisis. 

To protect fellow nations from debt, South Africa recommended implementing a council of neutral third parties to oversee foreign investment and debt. Some nations agreed, others took harsh stands against third party interference.

Rwanda called on the nations’ sovereignty and insisted that no interference could be tolerated.


Eswatini warned fellow members of two kinds of debt-traps: Diplomatic traps could make the continent politically dependent on China, whose BRI promises funding for infrastructure projects in an apparent attempt to grow its trade network. 

High, risky investment in African nations could lead to economic dependence on the Asian world power that could ultimately undermine African sovereignty, the delegation added.

Instead of a deliberate foreign policy from China, Djibouti cited false risk assessment as reason for debt problems on the continent. 

Cameroon, too, called for an economic solution, while keeping important relationships with china.

Analysts see few chances of a coalition against the BRI and continued Chinese investment in the continent, as economic struggles persist in many of the bloc’s member nations. So far, few other nations have spoken openly against Chinese investment. 

The suggestion of a third-party council was heavily criticized by Madagascar and Rwanda, who stated being offended by allegations against China. 

After Eswatini maintained ties with Taiwan, China, which claims the island as its own territory, had retaliated in an attempt to influence Eswatinian foreign policy. This kind of intervention would undermine attempts of the continent to become more cosmopolitan.

EuroMUN Committee: African Union (AU)


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