US accuses China, Russia of underhand dealings in Africa
Government of the United States of America (USA) has accused China and Russia of using “opaque” and “corrupt” deals in their relations with African countries.
This is coming at the heels of fast China and Russia influence in Africa.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton said the two nations were “deliberately and aggressively” attempting to gain an economic advantage over the US on the continent.
He said the Trump administration’s new strategy for Africa would focus on trade and countering terrorism.
Shortly before embarking on his first official visit to Africa, former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. is committed to building on a “strong foundation of U.S.-Africa relations” and accused China of “encouraging dependency” in its approach to Africa.
Tillerson said the U.S. was “eager” to lower barriers to trade and investment in Africa, whose largest trading partner by far is China. He added that the U.S. approach of “incentivizing good governance” contrasts sharply to China’s, “which encourages dependency, using opaque contracts, predatory loan practices and corrupt deals that mire nations in debt and undercut their sovereignty.”
“Our country’s security and economic prosperity are linked with Africa’s like never before,” the top U.S. diplomat said before an audience at George Mason University just outside of Washington. The trip comes two months after President Donald Trump triggered a wave of controversy when he reportedly referred to African nations as “shithole countries” during an Oval Office meeting on immigration with a bipartisan group of senators.
Bolton warned the US would no longer fund “unproductive” peacekeeping efforts.
“Under our new approach, every decision we make, every policy we pursue, and every dollar of aid we spend will further US priorities in the region,” he said in a speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.
He accused China of using “bribes, opaque agreements and the strategic use of debt to hold states in Africa captive to Beijing’s wishes and demands”.
He highlighted China’s influence in Djibouti, which he said was not only having a direct impact on the US’s military base there but could soon shift the balance of trading power in the region towards the east.
Russia, he said, was seeking to increase its influence in Africa by advancing “its political and economic relationships with little regard for the rule of law or accountable and transparent governance”.
He said Russia was continuing to “sell arms and energy in exchange for votes in the United Nations” and extracting “natural resources from the region for its own benefit”.
The BBC’s Anne Soy says Mr Bolton’s speech could cause disquiet among Africans already concerned that their continent is being used as a platform to advance the agenda of global players.
The US strategy may be viewed by some Africans through the same lens the Trump administration is using to assess China and Russia’s intentions in Africa, she notes (DAN with BBC reports)