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Africa should avoid forfeiting sovereignty to China over loans: Tillerson


ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Thursday that African countries should be careful not to forfeit their sovereignty when they accept loans from China, the continent’s biggest trading partner.

路透社:美国国务卿Rex Tillerson周四称非洲国家在接受中国的贷款时应该小心谨慎,避免主权沦丧。中国是这片大陆最大的贸易伙伴。

Tillerson is using his first diplomatic trip to the continent to bolster security alliances on a continent increasingly turning to Beijing for aid and trade.


He may also seek to smooth relations after U.S. President Trump reportedly dismissed some African nations as “shithole countries” in January. Trump later denied making the comment.


“We are not in any way attempting to keep Chinese dollars from Africa,” Tillerson told a news conference in the Ethiopian capital. “It is important that African countries carefully consider the terms of those agreements and not forfeit their sovereignty.”


The United States is the leading aid donor to Africa but China surpassed it as a trade partner in 2009. Beijing has pumped billions into infrastructure projects, though critics say the use of Chinese firms and labor undermines their value.


Tillerson said Chinese investments “do not bring significant job creation locally” and criticized how Beijing structures loans to African government.


If a government accepts a Chinese loan and “gets into trouble”, he said, it can “lose control of its own infrastructure or its own resources through default.” He did not give examples.


The growing Chinese lending to the continent has also attracted criticism from some Africans, who say China’s agenda is to feed its appetite for African raw materials like oil, timber and minerals, and secure contracts for its firms.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, visiting Zimbabwe on Thursday, told reporters it was inappropriate for Tillerson to criticize China’s relationship with African countries.


“It was not appropriate to criticize the relations of his hosts — when he was a guest there — with another country,” he said. Many African governments enjoy close ties with both Washington and Beijing.


Kenya, for example, inaugurated a $3.2 billion railway funded by China last year. For the last three years, Kenya has received more than $100 million annually in U.S. security assistance.


Asked about Tillerson’s criticism of China’s approach on the continent, Kenya’s foreign affairs minister Monica Juma said: “This country is engaging with partners from across the world driven by our own interests and for our own value.”

当被问及蒂勒森对中国在这片大陆行为的批评时,肯尼亚外交部长Monica Juma说:“我国根据我们自己的兴趣,并为了我们自己的价值来与全世界的伙伴展开合作。”

African Union (AU) Commission Chairman Moussa Faki, of Chad, and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hold a news conference after their meeting at African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 8, 2018. 

2018年3月8日,来自乍得的非盟委员会主席Moussa Faki与美国国务卿里克斯蒂勒森,在位于埃塞俄比亚的亚的斯亚贝巴的非盟总部举行了会谈,会后双方召开新闻发布会。

Tillerson arrived in Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous nation, on Wednesday and visited the African Union headquarters on Thursday. The complex was funded and built by China and is seen as a symbol of Beijing’s thrust for influence and access to the continent’s natural resources.


Ethiopia is home to some of Beijing’s biggest investments, from a railway to Djibouti that opened last year to factories and industrial parks.


Earlier this week, Tillerson criticized “China’s approach” to Africa which he said encouraged dependency through “opaque contracts” and “predatory loan practices”.


Ethiopia’s prime minister resigned suddenly last month and a state of emergency was imposed but protests in the restive Oromia region have continued.


The secretary of state met Hailemariam Desalegn, who resigned as prime minister but is still acting in the post awaiting a replacement. Details of their discussions were not released.

国务卿会见了已经辞去总理职位的Hailemariam Desalegn,但他依然在行使职权等待接替者。他们讨论的细节没有公开。

Tillerson said after meeting his Ethiopian counterpart Workneh Gebeyehu that the answer to political turmoil in Ethiopia was greater freedoms.

在会见了他的埃塞俄比亚同行Workneh Gebeyehu后,蒂勒森说,埃塞俄比亚的政治混乱情况的解决方法是更大的自由。

“It is important that the country moves on past the state of emergency as quickly as possible,” he said.


Tillerson reiterated previous calls for African states to cut ties with North Korea.


North Korea has more than a dozen embassies on the continent. The Trump administration has said that Pyongyang earns hard currency from arms deals with African government and the trafficking of wildlife parts from Africa.


Tillerson is due to fly to Djibouti, host to military bases owned by the U.S., China, Japan, France, and Italy.


He will then visit Kenya, a key U.S. ally in the fight against al Shabaab Islamist militants in Somalia, before traveling to Chad and Nigeria, which are also battling to contain Islamist insurgents.


Analysts say Trump has focused mainly on security concerns in Africa at a time when China, Turkey and other nations are ramping up diplomatic and business links.


“When you look at the set of countries that are being visited I think it kind of reinforces the perception that security, indeed, is the overwhelming focus,” said Brahima Coulibaly, the director of the Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings Institution.

“看看他正在访问的一系列国家,我觉得的确有点支持‘安全确实是美国压倒性的重点’这一说法,”Brahima Coulibaly说,他是布鲁金斯基金会非洲发展倡议的主管。