Tonga Asks China to Restructure Heavy Debt Load

The Pacific island nation of Tonga has asked Beijing to restructure its large bilateral debt load, the government said on Thursday, as the pandemic upends the region’s tourism revenues and an onerous Chinese loan repayment schedule looms, Reuters reported. Tonga is one of the biggest Chinese debtors in the South Pacific, with its financial reliance dating back to loans taken more than a decade ago to rebuild its capital, Nuku’alofa, after riots. The small economy, largely dependent on external aid and remittances from Tongans living abroad, has since taken out additional loans. Tonga is due to make small principal repayments to the Export-Import Bank of China (EXIM) this financial year before the schedule ramps up in 2023-2024, when it will need to set aside about 15% of revenue to service external debts. Read more