By Eric Tataw – Tuesday February 5, 2019
The China Africa Research Initiative (CARI) at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), a research program dedicated to understanding the political and economic aspects of China-Africa relations has published empirical facts on some hidden monetary transactions between China and Cameroon.
Launched in 2014 and based at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C, USA, SAIS-CARI, focused on producing and promoting high quality, well-researched, and data-backed analysis of the relationship between China and African countries released financial transactions about Cameroon and China that are hitherto unknown to many in public.
On January 18, 2019, Paul Biya, President of Cameroon received a Special Representative of President Xi Jinping, Member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, Yang Jiechi in Yaoundé, the country’s capital.
According to reports from Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, Yang Jiechi conveyed President Xi Jinping’s warm greetings to Paul Biya and expressed that China-Cameroon friendship enjoys a time-honored history and has withstood the test of time and international vicissitudes.
Yang Jiechi pointed out that China and Cameroon should expand friendly exchanges at various levels, advance the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, deepen practical cooperation in various fields and strengthen people-to-people and cultural exchanges.
The Chinese side is willing to assist Cameroon in developing economy and improving people’s livelihood within its capacity, continuously support each other on issues concerning respective core interests and major concerns, and enhance communication and coordination on international and regional issues, Jiechi said.
President Paul Biya who had successfully visited China, and attended the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), reaching important consensus with President Xi Jinping asked Jiechi to convey his warm greetings to Xi Jinping and expressed how Cameroon attaches great importance to developing relations with China.
It, however, turned out that during that meeting, China canceled a colossal amount of what Cameroon owes her. Yet, neither China nor Cameroon said a thing about the covenant. Even state-run television, CRTV – Cameroon Radio Television was never informed nor did the Cameroon government issued a thank you statement to China.
A local Chinese news organ later reported that 3 trillion francs CFA (approximately some $5.2 billion) of Cameroon’s debt was canceled during the attaché’s visit. However, according to the China Africa Research Initiative (CARI), Five billion dollars is close to the amount Cameroon has borrowed from China since 2000 and exceeds the amount the country is believed to still owe.
Pundits hold that Paul Biya of Cameroon and President Xi Jinping Special Representative, Yang Jiechi kept the deal secret to protect Cameroon’s dampened financial strength and international borrowing i
Cameroon’s North West and South West Regions are engulfed in an armed conflict where it has been suggested that the government is spending heavily so much so that the state treasury is running dry. Announcing the cancellation of the debt publicly would have further molested the already broken esprit de corps of the military and other relevant government services.