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Trump’s Africa Policy Is Destined for Failure

The Wrong Way to Counter China

Chinese and Nigerien construction workers work on a building site in Niamey, Niger, February 2016. Joe PENNEY / REUTERS

Last week, in a speech at the Heritage Foundation, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton announced a new U.S. Africa strategy. Bolton wants to advance U.S. trade and investment, suppress terrorism and conflict, and ensure that U.S. aid is well spent. At its heart, however, the strategy is about countering China. Bolton attacked Beijing for its “predatory” practices in Africa and vowed a determined response.

The administration is right to worry about Beijing’s aggressive diplomacy in Africa, and Bolton’s speech provided a welcome vision after two years of listless U.S. policy toward the continent. But the new strategy misses the mark. While the Trump administration focuses on the commercial threat from China, Beijing is investing in long-term relationships, not just trade and infrastructure. The United States needs to offer African countries a compelling alternative if it is to counter China.

THE CHINA CHALLENGE

The United States

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