The US has declared new sanctions against Ethiopia; however, China which is Ethiopia’s biggest lender has called out the US on this decision. China’s concern spans from its policy of non-interference.
US president Joe Biden earlier authorized the Department of Treasury and the State Department to pursue individuals and entities in Ethiopia and Eritrea involved in the conflict that erupted in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region. This is an attempt to apply pressure towards a “negotiated ceasefire and political resolution of this crisis.”
Reacting to the sanction, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian said: “We oppose the wanton exertion of pressure through sanctions or the threat of imposing sanctions to interfere in other countries internal affairs.” China insists that “the U.S. should prudently handle relevant issues and play a constructive role in restoring peace and stability in the country.”
Considering China’s general non-interference policy, this reaction is hardly a surprise. However, it is important to point out that, while China pushes a ‘stay off demeanor’ on the US, it does not leave China with a lack of influence in the region.
According to Data, China is Ethiopia’s biggest bilateral lender, with $6.5 billion in loans and 23% of the total public debt burden of $27.8 billion.
Over ten months now Ethiopia’s government has been taking military action against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which controls the country’s northern Tigray region.
The situation worsened when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered his military to respond to an attack by Tigrayan state forces on a federal military base. Tigray is under a serious and effective aid blockade, and no fuel or medicine has been delivered to Tigray since August 16, leading to rising cases of starvation in the region.
Abiy is expected to form a new government in October, after a landslide win by his political party in elections earlier this year