Mr Tillerson addresses China’s growing investment in Africa.

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Mr Tillerson addresses China’s growing investment in Africa.

Mr. Tillerson will address China’s influence in the region during his visit to Africa. NPR’s Michael Martin spoke with Deborah Brautigam, director of the China African research initiative.

MICHEL MARTIN, host:

If Mr Tillerson’s secretary-general visits Africa to repair and strengthen relations between the United States and African countries, it is also to counter China’s growing interest in the continent. For years, China has invested in trade and loans in Africa. This puts America on the edge.

(record file)

REX TILLERSON: we will never try to keep Chinese investment money in Africa. They need it. However, we believe that it is important for African countries to consider carefully the terms of these investments.

Martin: that was tilson’s speech on Thursday from the Ethiopian capital Addis ababa. We want to know about China’s growing influence in the region, so we call Deborah brautigan. She is the director of the China Africa research program at the Johns Hopkins school of advanced international studies.

Welcome. Thank you very much for talking to us.

DEBORAH BRAUTIGAM: happy.

Martin: so will you set the table for us here? What is China’s investment level in Africa?

BRAUTIGAM: well, the Chinese are very big investors in Africa. Their stock is about $40 billion, but from that point of view, the U.S. is about $5.8 billion, so we’re big investors in Africa. But investment in the United States has been falling, so while the Chinese are growing, we are pulling out of Africa.

Martin: so let’s go back a little bit and talk a little bit about what tilson’s secretary did in the paragraph we just played. What is the secretary talking about? He clearly expressed concern about China’s footprint in Africa. Why is he doing this now?

BRAUTIGAM: I think he’s thinking about it now for a couple of reasons. I think he will have his own personal background, because he has direct experience in competition with China. Of course, secretary tilson is the former head of exxon mobil, which owns assets in Africa. They have them in Angola, Chad, Cameroon, equatorial guinea, Nigeria and Tanzania. These are the places where they compete with China. But I think, clearly, this is – tilson minister to Africa trying to against the government in the presidential trump trump unfortunate experience after the comments on the African countries image problem, and it really helps to shift attention to the problems of Washington. By focusing on China.

Martin: however, does the state department have a strategy to deal with China’s impact or rebalance?

Mr. Brodigam: I think under the leadership of the Obama administration, we’re starting to see a strategy. As secretary tilson points out, the Chinese are very involved in Africa’s infrastructure. In terms of our government-sponsored engagement with Africa, the United States is mainly about foreign aid. So our aid goes to the health sector that we’re rebuilding. But what we do in health is to help more people stay alive, but the Chinese are building economic infrastructure that can provide jobs.

Martin: before we let you go, do you have any sense that the President’s reports on Africa will continue to have an impact? What do you think are the lingering effects?

Brotigam: I think, across the continent, people are very concerned about this and what’s happening in the United States. We are a very important country to them. They want America to become strong, they want to be leaders in the United States, and they want America to governance and set a good example of properly, so I want to go back to home to see how we can become a better democracy. To crack down on China’s influence in Africa.

Martin: that’s Deborah brautegan. She is the director of the China Africa research program at the Johns Hopkins school of advanced international studies. Thank you very much for talking with us.

BRAUTIGAM: you’re welcome.

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