Reports of Uganda Surrendering Airport to China Denied by Both

It was alleged that China would seize Uganda's airport if the latter failed to pay back a $200 million loan.

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After numerous reports circulated on the internet about China taking control of Uganda's international airport, both countries have categorically denied the claims.

A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Kampala stated on 28 November, "The malicious allegation... has no factual basis and is ill intended to distort the good relations that China enjoys with developing countries including Uganda," AFP reported.

The embassy also tweeted a long statement.

The rumour that was widely circulating, is believed to have originated last week in the Daily Monitor, an independent daily newspaper in Uganda.

According to the Daily Monitor, Uganda was at risk of surrendering the Entebbe International Airport if it failed to pay back a $200 million loan to China that it took in 2015 to expand and improve the airport.

A photoshopped image of the Chinese flag flying over the airport and a banner reading 'Welcome to China Entebbe International Airport' caused panic among Ugandans.

Both images were widely shared online, but the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority tweeted a clarification.

The Uganda's Civil Aviation Authority has also refuted the allegations against China, arguing that the Ugandan government would never surrender a national asset of such importance in such a manner.

The project to expand Entebbe International Airport by the state-owned China Communications Construction Compan y began in March 2016 and is expected to be finished by the end of the next year.

These allegations against China of debt-trapping poorer countries and seizing their assets are nothing new.

A detailed account of China's debt-trapping strategies and how it has taken over ports and lands of other countries after the latter defaulted in loan payments can be found here.

(With inputs from AFP.)

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