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US Seeks Cooperation with China in Africa

A U.S. official says Washington wants to cooperate with China to help Africa develop. China has been criticized for its dealings with abusive African governments, but has also won applause for encouraging dialogue between Sudan and the international community. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.

The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs says there may be opportunities for the United States and China to cooperate in building Africa's infrastructure and its agriculture and health sectors.

Jendayi Frazer says that coordinating U.S. and Chinese aid would prevent overlapping projects and lead to more efficient use of resources.

But she says China needs to be more transparent with how it gives debt relief and loans to African nations.

"We certainly are concerned about China's lending practices potentially undermining our efforts to insure that Africa doesn't reaccumulate unsustainable debt," said Frazer. "We don't want to on the one hand cancel that debt and then on the other hand, China's giving more debt."

Frazer spoke Wednesday at China's prestigious Peking University and is in Beijing for meetings with Chinese officials.

China buys increasing amounts of raw materials and energy from Africa to feed its growing economy.

Beijing has come under criticism for its willingness to trade with and sell weapons to African governments shunned by Western leaders because of human rights abuses.

Frazer says as China becomes more involved in Africa, Beijing is likely to change its policy of not interfering in a country's internal affairs.

"I suspect that China's going to come closer to our position," she said. "And, I think that's true because China, as it invests more and has more contracts, for instance in the Congo and in other places, they're going to want the rule of law."

Beijing has won praise for using its influence with Sudan to urge Khartoum to cooperate on peace talks for its war-torn Darfur region.

She offered no specific U.S.-China cooperation plan for Africa, but said the U.S. encourages China to endorse the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative for Africa.

The agreement encourages financial transparency for companies extracting resources from Africa, anti-corruption efforts, and the efficient use of the resources.