Home GRASP GRASP/China Tillerson heads to Africa to discuss counter-terrorism, development, China and debt

Tillerson heads to Africa to discuss counter-terrorism, development, China and debt

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson heads into one of the world’s most insecure, politically troubled regions Tuesday when he begins a seven-day, five-nation diplomatic mission through sub-Saharan Africa.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson headed to one of the most insecure, politically troubled regions of the world on Tuesday when he began a seven-day, five-nation diplomatic mission through sub-Saharan Africa.
In a policy speech before he left, Tillerson said he will seek continued support in counter-terrorism efforts and make a case for resisting China’s growing political and economic influence on the continent.
“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,” Tillerson said at George Mason University outside Washington.
“When coupled with the political and fiscal pressure, this endangers Africa’s natural resources and its long-term economic and political stability,” he added.
China has poured tens of millions of dollars into African government coffers to be allowed to exploit mining of natural resources, and development of gas and oil, with little regard for environmental or local development, some activists maintain.
Challenging a rising China has become a favored theme for Tillerson, who also criticized Chinese investment in Latin America during a swing there last month and in the so-called Indo-Pacific region, where Beijing wields enormous economic and military power.
U. S. officials decry what they say is a Chinese policy of easy, low-interest loans to governments that produce high indebtedness. Russia, Iran and other countries offer similar loans.
“We spent so much time getting them off of debt, and to see them to go back on debt is just terrible,” said a senior State Department official who specializes in Africa and who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity ahead of Tillerson’s trip.

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