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Ranked: The Top 20 Countries in Debt to China

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In this graphic, we ranked the top 20 countries by their amount of debt to China. These figures are as of 2022, and come from the World Bank (accessed via Yahoo Finance).

The data used to make this graphic can be found in the table below.

CountryTotal external debt to China ($B)



Sri Lanka$8.9










Côte d’Ivoire$3.9




Republic of the Congo$3.4

South Africa$3.4



This dataset highlights Pakistan and Angola as having the largest debts to China by a wide margin. Both countries have taken billions in loans from China for various infrastructure and energy projects.

Critically, both countries have also struggled to manage their debt burdens. In February 2024, China extended the maturity of a $2 billion loan to Pakistan.

Soon after in March 2024, Angola negotiated a lower monthly debt payment with its biggest Chinese creditor, China Development Bank (CDB).

Could China be in Trouble?

China has provided developing countries with over $1 trillion in committed funding through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a massive economic development project aimed at enhancing trade between China and countries across Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Many believe that this lending spree could be an issue in the near future.

According to a 2023 report by AidData, 80% of these loans involve countries in financial distress, raising concerns about whether participating nations will ever be able to repay their debts.

While China claims the BRI is a driver of global development, critics in the West have long warned that the BRI employs debt-trap diplomacy, a tactic where one country uses loans to gain influence over another.

Learn More About Debt from Visual Capitalist

If you enjoyed this post, check out our breakdown of $97 trillion in global government debt.

The post Ranked: The Top 20 Countries in Debt to China appeared first on Visual Capitalist.


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