Djibouti Needed Help, China Had Money, and Now the U.S. and France Are Worried

By Nizar Manek, April 6 2019
The African nation is tiny, poor, strategically located—and deeply in debt to Beijing.
(Bloomberg Markets magazine) --
Inside the carriages on the 10-hour rail journey through land-locked Ethiopia into the tiny Red Sea state of Djibouti, the chirping of mobile phones mingles with a mashup of regional languages and the murmur of the devout at prayer. A woman in a yellow frock trundles past maroon-upholstered seats with her cart: “Coffee! Bunna! Tea! Chai!”
At first glance, there’s nothing conspicuously Chinese about the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, but then you spot the train’s Chinese driver and a few Chinese passengers huddled on a bunkbed. In fact, says Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh, Djibouti’s good-­humored finance minister, “It’s all about the ‘C.’” The railway wouldn’t exist in its current form without a massive infusion of Chinese loans—indeed, most of Djibouti’s economy relies on Chinese credit. And the Chinese might not have shown as much interest if it hadn’t been for Djibouti’s geostrategic location: About a third of all the world’s shipping steams past this barren land on the northeast edge of Africa en route to and from the Suez Canal, the Red Sea, and the Indian Ocean.
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https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-04-06/djibouti-needed-help-china-had-money-and-now-the-u-s-and-france-are-worried