World Bank encouraging ‘responsible’ Chinese lending in Africa: Zoellick

BRUSSELS, Nov 19, 2007 (AFP) – World Bank president Robert Zoellick said Monday the development body was encouraging China to be a “responsible” lender in Africa amid European concerns about its growing role on the resource rich continent.

“We are starting to work with both the Africans and the Chinese … about encouraging responsible lending policies so we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past,” he told EU lawmakers at the European Parliament.

Zoellick, who as a top US diplomat led a strategic dialogue with China, stressed that “because of its achievement and its size, it has responsibilities in the international system.”

The resource-hungry Asian giant is fast becoming a major lender and investor in Africa, raising concerns in Europe that Chinese lending practices risk saddling poor countries with extra debt.

However, Zoellick, who is due to visit China in December, also said that Europeans should be careful about lecturing African countries about borrowing from China.

“I think we have to be careful, and frankly Europe with its colonial past even more careful, that Africans don’t want Europeans saying others can’t invest in Africa,” he said. Since he was appointed in June, Zoellick has courted China as a partner