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Cornelia Tremann: U.S. Secretary of State’s Upcoming African Visit Reveals a Strategy Fixated on Hobbling Chinese Momentum

Chinese workers stand at the construction site of Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) during the Presidential Inspection of the SGR Nairobi-Naivasha Phase 2A project in Nairobi, Kenya, on June 23, 2018. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will make his first trip to sub-Saharan Africa from February 15th to the 19th when he’ll visit Senegal, Angola, and Ethiopia.

In a briefing earlier this week at the State Department, senior officials laid out the Secretary’s objectives for the trip that will include a wide range from security, enhancing economic ties, democratization to fighting corruption. Surprisingly, the briefers, whose names and positions were not disclosed, barely mentioned China at all during the session. That’s unusual because typically during these kinds of high profile U.S. diplomatic tours in Africa, China’s massive presence in Africa tends to be a rather prominent topic of discussion among the press and U.S. officials.

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