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Belt and Road

Along China's Belt and Road, lenders' problem debt mounts

Troubled loans grew fourfold during pandemic as borrowers hit hard times

A construction site for the Chinese-backed Nairobi Expressway, seen in 2021. China's Belt and Road Initiative has infrastructure projects from Asia to Africa and Europe.   © Reuters

BEIJING -- Chinese overseas loans went sour at a far worse rate in recent years as the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation took a toll on emerging economies involved in Beijing's Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.

A total of $76.8 billion in debt was renegotiated -- in some cases written off -- from 2020 to 2022, data from the Rhodium Group shows. This figure is more than four times the $17 billion in problem debt for the preceding three years.

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