The IMF has warned for more than a year of rising debt levels in low income countries. Now, bailout talks with Pakistan and requests for help from Angola, Zambia and others are forcing the fund to confront a pressing question: how far is debt distress in the developing world due to lending by China?
The trouble is, no one has the information needed to answer this question and so ensure that Beijing plays its part in any writedowns of debt to official creditors.
In the past decade, China has stepped into the gap left by western donors, offering no-strings finance for political allies and for projects advancing its commercial and geopolitical interests.
In the absence of official data, it is hard to assess even the scale of lending. Re…
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