Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently wrapped up a three-nation tour of Africa. Stopping in Kenya, Nigeria, and Senegal, Blinken made sure to take aim at China’s investment projects on the continent, which the US views as a threat to its influence.
The common claim against China’s investments in Africa is that they leave the countries in insurmountable debt. But the African nations seem happy to keep doing business with Beijing, and China’s projects are visible across the continent.
Blinken did not mention China by name in his criticism but made clear what he was addressing. In Senegal, Blinken witnessed the signing of contracts between four US companies and the government and said the US is investing “without saddling the country with a debt that it cannot handle.”
In a speech in Nigeria on Friday, Blinken lectured Africa on human rights and authoritarianism and also took a shot at China’s investments. “Too often, international infrastructure deals are opaque, coercive; they burden countries with unmanageable debt; they’re environmentally destructive; they don’t always benefit the people who actually live there,” Blinken said. “We will do things differently.”
As part of its campaign against Chinese influence, the Biden administration is looking to boost US infrastructure projects in Africa. The difference in the US and Chinese approaches to Africa was highlighted by Blinken’s speech. The US wants a say in how Africa’s governments are run, while China has a policy of non-interference.
Over the past two decades, as China was building infrastructure in Africa, the US was busy building military bases and waging wars. Today, US special operations forces are still expanding across Africa. There have been several coups in Africa in the past year alone, and more often than not, Africa’s coup leaders have had some sort of training from the US military.