Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

Has Clinton visit helped offset China’s clout in Africa?

August 12, 2009

U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 10 day trip to Africa ends this week with many commentators viewing it at least partly as being aimed at offsetting China’s growing economic clout on the African continent.
In public, Clinton has delivered Washington’s traditional messages on the importance of fair elections and of fighting corruption and human rights abuses.

But the fact that top oil producers Angola and Nigeria are both on the tour has made clear the importance of the visit from the perspective of ensuring access to resources – an area of huge importance to China too.

China’s trade in Africa hit $107 billion in 2008 and there are now 750,000 Chinese workers living and working in Africa. Sources in both Washington, D.C. and Africa confirmed that Clinton’s subtle diplomatic strategy is to offer African leaders infrastructure assistance in exchange for oil resources and increased energy investments on the African continent.

China, meanwhile, may be marshalling reserves to help kick start African economies and fuel demand as well as to secure access to its resources.

In the past, Beijing has always argued that it is still a very poor country on per capita basis so cannot afford foreign aid. China’s foreign aid was only 0.04 percent of its gross domestic product, only a fraction of the U.S. percentage of 0.4 percent and Europe’s 0.7 percent.

But the financial crisis has changed this. While the downturn has crimped U.S. and Europeans companies’ ability to expand overseas, Chinese firms, awash with cash, are keen to look for new growth opportunities in new markets.

Has Hillary’s visit helped to offset the Chinese push? What value can her words carry against Beijing’s ready cash? Should China be concerned that Washington  may be catching up with its own push into Africa?

Click here for more related articles:

China, others shove US in scramble for Africa

China may marshal reserves to fund African demand


The advantage Hillary has is the summoning Power of President Obama. The pertinent question is Who has the Money? And I venture it is HU.

Aly-Khan Satchu
Twitter alykhansatchu


China?! The US has many more things to worry about.

Consider, for example, which countries were selected on this trip.

Including South Africa on a 7-nations trip was not a photo-op for Mrs Clinton, nor an opportunity for some other hand-squeezing nonsense with a very old, Mr Mandela.

It was also not only about trade or the SA government’s bob-&-weave approach to Zimbabwe.

Mrs Clinton made damn sure that the SA government, and specifically Mr Zuma, got the message that her government wasn’t pleased at all about the implications of a recent ruling in the USA. And that ruling stated that South African apartheid victims had the right to sue Daimler, IBM, General Motors, among others, for trading in a country during the height of apartheid. If President Obama is bailing out GM with US tax payers’ money, do you really think Joe Public / Joanne Public in the US of A wants that money to be transferred to SA victims? Hell no. Watch this space; this is going to get very, very interesting soon.

Posted by Uta Context | Report as abusive

It might be a little bit too late. The politic of the West or the US has been to put a strong man in charge so that he can oppressed his people and pass favorable trade deals for US companies. Each time the US or Europe have touched Africa 10 millions people have died (Congo war 10 million deaths. Africans are not savage as one can think. They understand the game and they like the Chinese who do not instill war and killing but who bring business to the local population. We better catch up otherwise it will be too late.


Posted by Don Warome | Report as abusive

I’ve been watching this trip with great interest. It’s quite important that Secretary Clinton is laying the groundwork for future relationships with these African countries. We ignore the corruption, horrific abuses and virtual anarchy going on is some parts of the African continent at our own and the world’s peril. Excellent work Mrs. Clinton!

Posted by Margaret | Report as abusive

China is pouring millions in infrastructure into Africa right now. Money talks. What is the US doing other than sending fish when we should be teaching Africans how to become fishermen.

Posted by Tab Cocovillea | Report as abusive

US policy towards African Great-Lakes region ( Ouganda, Rwanda, Congo) has been a catastrophy that left 10 millions dead! mrs Clinton is hypocryte to try to make the world think that Rape in eastern Congo is a gender based violence. Her husband and Mr Kansteiner know perfectly about that, her maybe not ( or the Kinshasa student thaught she knows nothing about that silent holocaust and wanted the opinion of HER husband).

Exactly, the student was questioning the interference of Western to the win-win deal between China and the Congo while those countries have anyways no more money to help( and they never helped anyway since Slavery period).

Africans prefer China. They are far smarter in their way of dealing with weaker ones. May be because they remember to have been weak too, not so long time ago.

DRC that has seem millions of its citizen killed by a proxy western wars (using Rwanda’s tutsi as black killers) has not a lot to expect from Clinton and USA.

China’s appeal is hard to beat.And they are smarter, I reapet in their foreign policy.


Posted by Issi | Report as abusive

Why everyone talking about China anyway? There are a lot more things to be considered of besides China. China is, after all, still weak when compared to US, Europe and Australia. China’s not even on par with Russia.

Posted by Leong | Report as abusive

Headline: “Clinton visits Liberia, backs woman president”

Hillary then proceeded to say that her Liberian birth certificate can be found on


Posted by Hillary | Report as abusive

Hillary is a wonderful representative for the US. My hope is that Africa will benefit greatly from her visit.


To Leong:

August 13th, 2009
3:09 am GMT

“Why everyone talking about China anyway? There are a lot more things to be considered of besides China. China is, after all, still weak when compared to US, Europe and Australia. China’s not even on par with Russia.
- Posted by Leong”

I believe people who live outside of your cave know when China sneezes, the rest of the world catch the cold. Few simple facts about China:

- Is the world’s most populous country
- Is the world’s third largest economy
- Has the highest foreign reserves
- Is the largest international buyer of the debt of the largest economy of the world – the US
- Has the world’s largest company by market capitalization called PetroChina. (Wasn’t that part of Clinton’s trip was about oil?)
- Has four of the world’s 10 largest companies by market capitalization, on par with the US.

Posted by Jack of All Trades | Report as abusive

yes why ain’t America put attention on his own affair…. why we’re looking forward to china?


Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see