A few weeks before the Sri Lankan president fled the country amid growing protests triggered by its debt-laden economy’s default and financial crisis, a top Kyrgyz official issued a warning about the Central Asian nation’s own dire forecast as the turmoil unfolded.
“We must always remember the need to pay [our] public debt,” Akylbek Japarov, the chairman of Kyrgyzstan’s cabinet of ministers, said at a parliamentary session in late June.
Like Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan also has a swelling state debt and took on billions worth of loans over the last decade from China’s Export-Import Bank for a series of infrastructure plans under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s signature policy, which he once dubbed “the project of the century.”
Kyrgyzstan’s debt currently sits north of $5.1 billion, according to the Foreign Ministry, 42 percent of which is owed to Beijing. But Bishkek is struggling to cope with a…