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Surinamese President Santokhi visits China

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Surinamese President Santokhi visits China

Surinamese President Chandrikapersad Santokhi will arrive in China today.

President Santokhi will embark on a 6-day state-visit, starting with a welcome ceremony which will include a joint signing of cooperation documents. This visit coincides with the fifth anniversary of the China-Suriname strategic cooperative partnership, which established stronger commercial ties amid Suriname’s participation in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The major thorn in the bilateral relationship is Suriname’s growing debt to Chinese creditors for road and housing projects, topping USD$545 million last year. IMF bailouts were withheld until Chinese creditors played a larger role, which the Biden administration said was crucial in China stepping up as a “constructive force” in global debt relief. This debt was recently resolved through bilateral negotiations, and it is expected that today, both leaders will formally sign-off on a financial restructuring agreement — the details of which have yet to be released.

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Photo: Niall Carson / Associated Press

This week’s visit by Santokhi, specifically the agreement signing, will be watched by all recipients of BRI funding, especially in the global south where debt refinancing with China may be necessary soon. The trip’s length exemplifies China’s presence in the western hemisphere and will demonstrate how Surinamese ‘diplomatic preference’ may now fall to Beijing.

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