New Africa Strategy Pits US Against China, Russia

In his speech, Bolton called out China's pattern of "bribes, opaque agreements, and the strategic use of debt to hold states in Africa captive to Beijing's wishes and demands".

The Trump administration on Thursday announced a sharp refocus of its Africa strategy to counter what it called the "predatory" practices of China and Russian Federation, which are "deliberately and aggressively targeting their investments in the region to gain a competitive advantage".

Bolton said the new strategy in Africa focuses on furthering American interests and priorities in the continent by encouraging economic opportunities with partner nations, the effective use of US aid and peacekeeping efforts, and countering extremist groups such as the Islamic State and al-Qaida by supporting regional government efforts to improve security and cooperation.

"As our partner nations develop economically, they will be better prepared to address a range of security threats including terrorism and militant violence".

But the US footprint is shrinking: Trump's administration has sought to reduce foreign aid - Bolton said a review of aid effectiveness is near completion - and the Pentagon has signaled it is shifting its focus to "great power" standoffs in other parts of the globe.

FILE - Chinese People's Liberation Army personnel attend the opening ceremony of China's new military base in Djibouti, Aug. 1, 2017.

National Security Adviser John Bolton announced the Trump administration's strategy for Africa on Thursday, warning that the US would no longer support "unproductive" United Nations peacekeeping missions, and promising to advance USA interests on the continent.

Former U.S. diplomats and regional experts say the strategy is long overdue.

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.

Africa is one of the main targets of China's "Belt and Road Initiative", a programme of transcontinental infrastructure development and investment which Xi launched in 2013.

He warned that the US will "reevaluate its support for United Nations peacekeeping missions" as well as aid to countries whose governance it finds troublesome, including South Sudan.

Bolton also criticized what he said was an "uneven" approach to the continent by previous US administrations. "Its investment ventures are riddled with corruption, and do not meet the same environmental or ethical standards as US developmental programs".

What's new is a more explicit commitment to pursuing programs that unambiguously advance USA interests, and an emphatic desire to prevent Beijing and Moscow from making moves in Africa unchallenged.

China opened its first overseas military base a year ago in the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti, the site of the only permanent USA military base on the continent. He added that "countries that repeatedly vote against the United States in global forums, or take action counter to us interests, should not receive generous American foreign aid". This number represents only a small amount of the total aid that the United States devotes to Africa. Between 1955 and 2006, US aid to Africa was roughly equal to the amount of assistance provided by all other donors combined.

Trump has vowed to slash foreign aid across the world and is not known for his interest in Africa, notoriously being quoted by lawmakers as calling some African countries "s***holes" when discussing immigration to the United States. The new the US International Development Finance Corp combines OPIC and other government development organizations.


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