In Global Slowdown, China Holds Sway Over Countries’ Fates

The lender of choice for many nations over the past decade, Beijing now has the power to cut them off, lend more or forgive some of their debts.

Keith Bradsher

By Keith Bradsher

  • Oct. 6, 2022Updated 7:57 a.m. ET

“BEIJING — When Suriname couldn’t make its debt payments, a Chinese state bank seized the money from one of the South American country’s accounts.

As Pakistan has struggled to cope with a devastating flood that has inundated a third of the country, its loan repayments to China have been rising fast.

When Kenyans and Angolans went to the polls in presidential elections in August, the countries’ Chinese loans, and how to repay them, were a hot-button political issue.

Across much of the developing world, China finds itself in an uncomfortable position, a geopolitical giant that now holds significant sway over the financial futures of many nations but is also owed huge sums of money that may never be repaid in full.”