America’s top diplomat had tough words for China, Africa’s biggest trading partner, ahead of his first official tour of the continent.
Tillerson disses China on Africa ties
Rex Tillerson accused China of encouraging dependency, using predatory loan practices and engaging in corruption.
The diplomat praised his own country’s engagement with countries in Africa, saying the US promoted good governance to meet long-term security and development goals.
“This stands in stark contrast to China's approach, which encourages dependency using opaque contracts, predatory loan practices and corrupt deals that mire nations in debt and undercut their sovereignty,” he said.
“Chinese investment does have the potential to address Africa's infrastructure gap, but its approach has led to mounting debt and few, if any jobs, in most countries.”
He added: “When coupled with the political and fiscal pressure, this endangers Africa's natural resources and its long-term economic political stability.”
There was no immediate reaction from China to this statement.
Tillerson made the remarks at George Washington University in Virginia, just before his trip to Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria.
Tillerson has promised more than $500 million in new aid, just months after President Donald Trump reportedly labeled all African countries (plus Haiti and El Salvador) as “shithole countries.”
In the past 20 years, China has become Africa’s most important economic partner.
But this has prompted some to ask whether the arrangement is mutually beneficial, and even whether it is a form of neo-colonialism.
Africa feeds China’s growing economy with natural resources including oil, metals and timber.
China sells Africa its manufactured goods and provides infrastructure investment and billions in loans – all with a “no strings attached” policy that requires no promises of political reform.
It has also been upping its political and military ties with African countries. Its first and only overseas military base is located in Djibouti.