BEIRUT: US officials should “find solutions to the chronic problems of American society” before commenting on China’s foreign relations, the Chinese Embassy in Lebanon said in a statement Wednesday.
The statement accused US Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs David Schenker of making “false accusations” against China during an interview he made with Lebanese media Tuesday.
In the interview, Schenker said that Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah’s calls for Lebanon to seek assistance from China were a “ploy.” He accused China of luring countries into signing aid contracts that threatened to transfer their sovereignty over to the east Asian giant.
“We all see how China seeks to acquire any country that fails to pay its debt dues,” he said, highlighting an infamous case in 2017 where Sri Lanka was forced to grant China a 99-year lease over its port after failing to pay back its debts.
The Chinese Embassy replied Wednesday that China deals with Lebanon “on the basis of equality and mutual benefit,” and that it never puts “any political condition on its loans.”
It added that China is “committed in its financial cooperation with other developing countries to respecting the sovereignty of all countries.”
Chinese loans make up about 10 percent of Sri Lanka's external debt, it said, adding that “no country has fallen into the alleged ‘debt traps’ because of its cooperation with China.”
Schenker also questioned how much aid China gave to Lebanon to weather the coronavirus pandemic.
The embassy’s statement highlighted that China gifted Lebanon over 1 million medical masks, 20,000 personal protective equipment, 3,000 PCR units, and 3,000 pairs of protective medical goggles during this recent period.
It also said that China directed $50 million to the World Health Organization in 2020 to support global efforts to combat coronavirus, and that China pledged $2 billion over the next two years to support the countries affected by the pandemic, especially developing countries.
The statement concluded by urging US officials to mind their own business.
“We sincerely hope that American officials ... strive to find solutions to the chronic problems of American society ... and take care of their own affairs instead of interfering in the affairs of other countries,” it said.