Mormons deny they are helping pay off Tonga’s U$160 million debt to China

    The Mormon church in Tonga has denied media reports that it is helping to pay off the kingdom’s debt to China.

    Elder ‘Aisake Tukuafu has denied reports in the Indian Sunday Guardian of rumours that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had offered to help Tonga with its sovereign debt to China.

    The debt is estimated to stand at U$160 million.

    The newspaper offered no source for the rumours and said they had not been confirmed or denied.

    “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not help governments pay off loans from other countries,” Elder Tukuafu said.

    “Media reports that the Church is doing this for Tonga are not true.

    “In fulfilment of one of its core purposes, the Church has helped, and continues to help the people of Tonga in a variety of ways through humanitarian, education and other charitable work.

    “This work is supported by volunteers and funded by the donations of Latter-day Saints and others in Tonga and throughout the world.

    “Our focus is to do as Jesus Christ has taught and shown, which is to relieve suffering and help individuals and families improve their lives.”

    The Sunday Guardian said that census estimates showed that 18-20% of Tongans considered themselves practicing members of the LDS Church.

    The newspaper claimed that statistically, Tonga was the most Mormon country on earth.

    Reuters reported last November that Tonga had received a reprieve from Beijing on the timing of its debt payments after it signed up to China’s Belt and Road initiative.

    The extension was granted shortly before Tonga was due to start repaying it debt to China.

    Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva’s political adviser, Lopeti Senituli, told Reuters repayments had been  deferred for five years.

    The main points

    • The Mormon church in Tonga has denied media reports that it is helping to pay off the kingdom’s debt to China.
    • Elder ‘Aisake Tukuafu has denied reports in the Indian Sunday Guardian of rumours that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had offered to help Tonga with its sovereign debt to China.

    LEAVE A REPLY

    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here