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Christian Aid backs Benn over new Chinese loans to Africa

 Christian Aid is backing the international development secretary Hilary Benn's criticism of new Chinese loans to Africa. Mr Benn has warned that China's offer of cheap loans to African governments risks driving back into debt countries that have only just benefited from debt relief. Africa policy manager Babatunde Olugboji said Zimbabwe was a case in point. "As the country's economy deteriorates under the autocratic rule of Robert Mugabe, campaigners look forward to the day when this potentially rich southern African country embraces democracy and the rule of law," he said. "When that day comes, Christian Aid believes the citizens of the new Zimbabwe should not be crushed by debt repayments invoked by Mugabe to prop up his regime." Christian Aid also agrees with Mr Benn when, in the same interview, he criticised the World Bank for tying financial support to African countries to ideologically driven economic policies such as privatisation. Mr Olugboji said: "In many of these countries, elected legislators and independent monitoring bodies have no say in the amount of money being borrowed, the terms of the loans, or the purposes for which they are being sought."