News / Asia

Clinton Answers China's Challenge in Africa

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the University of Dakar, in Dakar, Senegal, August 1, 2012.U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the University of Dakar, in Dakar, Senegal, August 1, 2012.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the University of Dakar, in Dakar, Senegal, August 1, 2012.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the University of Dakar, in Dakar, Senegal, August 1, 2012.
Terry Wing
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told leaders in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, on Wednesday that Africa’s best hope for economic prosperity lies with democratic institutions and open markets. 

Underlying her message was a challenge to China’s increasing influence on the continent.

Dakar was the first stop on an 11-day Africa tour for Secretary Clinton, and the unabashed theme of her trip is to make sure African leaders know the difference between deals made with the United States and those made with China.
The challenge that Clinton faces is daunting.

China’s Economic Clout
China surpassed the United States in 2009 to become Africa’s largest trading partner.  Chinese aid and investment in Africa have also grown rapidly.   

Chinese officials announced last month that some 2,000 Chinese companies now have dealings in Africa, with investments totaling $14.7 billion - an increase of 60 percent in two years.
Washington was also caught by surprise last month when Chinese Premier Hu Jintao announced to 50 African leaders at a forum in Beijing his promise to provide $20 billion in foreign aid -- twice as much as was promised three years earlier.
At the heart of China’s aggressive move in Africa is its plan to gain access to the continent’s rich energy and mineral resources needed to drive its own rapid economic expansion.  
African leaders, like South African President Jakob Zuma, have been impressed by what they call China’s willingness to treat them like equals.   It was a pointed criticism at Western ways of the past. 

Addressing Senagalese leaders on Wednesday, Clinton said those days are over.
“The days of having outsiders come and extract the wealth of Africa for themselves, leaving nothing or very little behind, should be over in the 21st century," she said.
Clinton’s Warning

Clinton cited pledge made by U.S. President Barack Obama during a landmark speech on Africa during a 2009 visit to Ghana.  Obama said that the United States would offer Africa "partnership, not patronage." 

Clinton said the president's comments then should be headed now when African leaders consider doing business with Chinese companies.
"Throughout my trip across Africa this week, I will be talking about what that means - about a model of sustainable partnership that adds value, rather than extracts it," she said.
Clinton never mentioned China by name during her Dakar address.  Still it was obvious who she was talking about when she drew political comparisons the two rivals. 
“Over the long run you cannot have effective economic liberalization without political liberalization. Without the rule of law, people with a good business idea or money to invest cannot trust that contracts will be honored and corruption punished… or that regulations will be transparent and disputes resolved fairly," Clinton told her Senegalese hosts.  

WShe encouraged African leaders to view democratic reform as a key to sustainable development, and not as an afterthought.

The American Advantage

In the past U.S. officials, including Clinton, have expressed deep reservations over China's exploitation of Africa's raw materials without regard for human rights and democratic principles.

In Dakar, Clinton acknowledged that U.S. policies haven’t always lined up with its principles.  But she said Washington wants to build relationships that are not “transactional or transitory,” and are built on values not shared with its Asian competitior.

“They are built on a foundation on shared democratic values and respect for the universal human rights of every man and woman,” Clinton said.

Clinton’s message is what Washington sees as its competitive advantage over China – the belief that Africa’s best chance for achieving good governance and better living standards lie with partners like the United States.

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greets Kofi Annan and his wife Nane Lagergren at the funeral of Ghana President John Atta Mills, in Accra, Ghana, August 10, 2012.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, meets with Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama, at his residence in Accra, Ghana, August 9, 2012.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a clinic at Delft township on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa, August 8, 2012.
  • South Africa's Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, left, and Hillary Clinton visit the Delft South Clinic in Delft South, a suburb of Cape Town, South Africa, August 8, 2012.
  • Hillary Clinton meets with former South Africa President Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel at his home in Qunu, South Africa, August 6, 2012.
  • Hillary Clinton and South Africa's Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane see a rare snow flurry as they leave business meetings in Pretoria, South Africa, August 7, 2012.
  • Hillary Clinton walks out with African Union Chair-Designate Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma after their meeting at Brynterion Estate in Pretoria, South Africa, August 7, 2012.
  • Hillary Clinton dances with Emille Phiri, chair of the Lumbadzi Milk Bulking Group, Lilongwe, Malawi, August 5, 2012.
  • Hillary Clinton meets with Malawi's President Joyce Banda at the State House in Lilongwe, Malawi, August 5, 2012.
  • Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki, with Hillary Clinton (R) and his vice president Kalonzo Musyoka (L), leaves after a meeting at State House in Nairobi August 4, 2012.
  • Hillary Clinton is met by Uganda's Foreign Affairs Minister Okello Oryem upon arrival at Entebbe International Airport, August 3, 2012.
  • Hillary Clinton shakes hands with Bishop Elias Taban in Juba August 3, 2012.
  • Hillary Clinton meets with South Sudan President Salva Kiir, August 3, 2012, at the Presidential Office Building in Juba.
  • Hillary Clinton, accompanied by President Macky Sall, speaks at the Presidential Palace in Dakar, August 1, 2012.
  • Hillary Clinton shakes hands with staff from the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, August 1, 2012.
  • The shadow of Hillary Clinton on a Senegalese flag before she spoke at the University of Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, Senegal, August 1, 2012.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Eric from: US
August 04, 2012 10:32 AM
VOA journalists/State Department, dream on! Mere words and PR campaigns will never change what's going on in reality on the ground. Never forget; when white's deal with blacks, there is a legacy of the past 100, 200, 300 years of hard data to draw from about the behavior of whites towards blacks; we can harp on the good actions of the few (a skill the West has finessed), but to those who lived under the boot of oppression our "genes/psyches" are encoded with the evils perpetrated on our forbearers and still manufactured today. With Asia we have only harmony.

by: Jeff from: USA
August 02, 2012 11:31 AM
without actual means to improve normal African people's life and living, all those talks are just empty and sometimes may be very dirty.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs