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US Not Worried About China's Growing Presence in Africa


A U.S. official says Washington is not worried about China's expanding presence in Africa, but hopes Beijing expands its interests on the continent in a way that, in his words, "supports and reinforces international norms." His comments come as China's President Hu Jintao winds up a nine-country Africa trip. VOA's Stephanie Ho reports from Washington.

The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, James Swan, says Washington is not worried about China's expanding presence in Africa.

"China has real interests in Africa," said James Swan. "It is consequently going to be engaged in Africa. We don't see this as a zero sum game. For us, the important thing, from our perspective, is to encourage China to become involved in Africa, in a way that supports and reinforces international norms."

Swan spoke Thursday at the presentation of a Center for Strategic and International Studies Report called "China's Expanding Role in Africa: Implications for the United States."

The U.S. official said there are many areas in which U.S. and Chinese interests in Africa coincide, such as humanitarian aid programs, peacekeeping operations and health issues. But he said Washington has been discouraged by what it sees as China's lack of willingness to cooperate.

"Deepening our cooperation in these areas is going to require extended consultations, and our view is in many cases, the Chinese have been quite reluctant to coordinate their assistance programs and to collaborate with other major donors in trying to arrange for a cohesive approach in various countries in Africa," he said.

At the same time, Swan said there are more thorny areas of disagreement that may prove to be more difficult for Washington and Beijing to resolve.

"There are also areas where our approaches differ greatly, especially with respect to democracy and to governance issues, human rights issues, transparency issues," noted James Swan. "And in these areas, too, we need to be prepared for a sustained dialogue with the Chinese, since they clearly are viewing their foreign policy objectives over a much longer time horizon."

Recent U.S. dialogue with China about Africa dates back to 2005, when Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer discussed Africa policy with senior Chinese officials in Beijing.

The most recent high profile visit involved President Bush's special envoy for Sudan, Andrew Natsios, who went to Beijing last month to seek cooperation on solution to the crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Meantime, Swan said U.S. officials "frequently consult" with their Chinese counterparts about Africa. He said Washington wants to see Beijing become a responsible member of the global community and will be watching China's involvement in Africa as, in his words, "a test case of its willingness to work toward the broader interests of the international system."

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