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How China and Saudi Arabia are influencing the world with money

Saudi Arabia is investing oil industry profits in other countries in an attempt to diversify its own economy. However, activists claim that the kingdom is thus suppressing criticism over human rights violations. The US$608 billion state-owned Public Investment Fund (PIF) currently has stakes in, among others: Amazon.com Inc, Google LCC, Visa Inc, Microsoft Corporation, The Walt Disney Company, Nintendo, Uber Technologies Inc, PayPal Holdings Inc and Zoom. Brands such as Starbucks and World of Warcraft are also linked to the Saudis.

Having lent money to other countries in recent years, China is now in a position to influence the policies and economics of borrowers by cutting them off from funds, lending more or remitting some of their debts. The Chinese, for example, confiscated money from Suriname’s bank account when the country was unable to repay the debt. The situation for borrowers is exacerbated by the peculiarities of Chinese floating rate loans. With a rapid rise in global interest rates, debt soars, borrowers’ currencies lose value and debts have to be repaid in US dollars. At the same time, the Chinese are cutting back on lending in the face of slowing economic growth – thus developing African countries are losing the guardian that for years allowed them to borrow more cheaply than in capital markets. According to the Boston University Global Development Policy Center, between 2000 and 2020, Angola, Ethiopia, Zambia, Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria, Cameroon, South Africa, Congo and Ghana were the largest recipients of Chinese government loans.

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