US lashes out at 'corrupt' China, Russia in Africa

Cheryl Sanders
December 15, 2018

Yet African governments will from now on find a tighter-fisted approach to traditional USA aid, Bolton said, with an end to "indiscriminate assistance across the entire continent".

He said African countries will benefit from increased investment by USA companies and projects that will create jobs and bring higher environmental and business standards. Bolton says both countries have displayed the tendency to disregard laws and use corrupt practices to gain control in the region.

The $60 billion agency was named the United States International Development Finance Corp and was created in response to the growing global influence of China.

Announcing the new policy, the national security adviser, John Bolton, said it would put United States interests first, so would be built around trade and countering the threat terrorist groups like Isis and al-Qaida could pose to the US.

Both President Trump and outgoing U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley have said that the US will not be contributing more than 25 percent to the peacekeeping budget next year - a budget the administration has pushed to decrease. Lacking the financial muscle of its main rivals, the U.S., Europe and China, Russia is carving out a niche by shoring up strongmen in unstable but potentially resource-rich states who have a taste for Russian weaponry.

Bolton said China in particular "uses bribes, opaque agreements and the strategic use of debt to hold states in Africa captive to Beijing's wishes and demands".

KELEMEN: Bolton isn't putting a price tag on this initiative, and he made clear that the Trump administration is looking for ways to cut traditional aid programs on the continent and peacekeeping operations.

Bolton contrasted China's "bait and switch" policies in Africa to the American approach.

Trump administration wants to see an increase in USA investment and trade in Africa as part of a new strategy aimed at countering China's growing influence on the continent.

Cooke worries that only investing in countries in close alignment with US interests will produce short-term gains at a long-term cost.

In an address at the Heritage Foundation on Africa policy, Bolton said the Defense Department backs the move, although his assertion appears to contradict what current AFRICOM commander, Marine Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, and previous commanders have said. The United States will no longer provide indiscriminate assistance across the entire continent without focus or prioritization, and we will no longer support unproductive, unsuccessful, and unaccountable U.N. peacekeeping missions.

While some of China's actions pose unmistakable threats to US military operations and communications platforms, Devermont said, African leaders are not oblivious to risk.

Moscow also has sought to deepen military ties in countries such as the Central African Republic and others interested in acquiring arms.

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

China has built roads, laid down fiber-optic cables and delivered other massive infrastructure projects over the past decade, but often under loan terms that have left some impoverished governments saddled with large-scale debt, giving Beijing decisive leverage in coming years. "They're major players putting [in] lots of money and advancing their goals, and we lacked from this administration [information] on how they are going to navigate that", he said.

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