'US good, China bad' is Pompeo's message to Africa

Pompeo closes Africa tour with warning about China's 'empty promises'

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took a thinly veiled swipe at China on Wednesday (February 19), as the world's two biggest economies vie for influence on the African continent.

Praising the free market, Pompeo encouraged African countries to liberalize their economies after "failed socialist experiments of past years, quot; in countries like Zimbabwe and Tanzania".

Pompeo told reporters: "South Africa is debating an amendment to permit the expropriation of private property without compensation".

Pompeo instead encouraged respect for property rights, and said true, inclusive, sustainable economic liberation comes from a "strong rule of law, respect for property rights, regulation that encourages investment, women's full participation and governments that respect their people".

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo concluded his maiden trip to the African continent on Tuesday in Ethiopia, where he met the country's prime minister Abiy Ahmed, the president Zewde Sahle-Work and African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat among other dignitaries. In fact, farmers have been killed for more than 20 years in what is widely seen as part of the country's high crime rate, and experts say white farmers have not been the target.

"Be wary of authoritarian regimes and their empty promises", Pompeo said in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in a reference to China. They breed corruption, dependency, they don't hire the local people, they don't train and they don't lead them.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has continued working to limit China's authority in Africa. He also stopped in Senegal and Angola on a visit that seeks to reassert USA interests on a continent that many have accused the Trump administration of largely neglecting.

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Ethiopia is Africa's second most populous nation with well over 100 million people and it is a key USA security ally in the Horn of Africa.

He confirmed that the United States was seeking a free trade agreement with Kenya, but did not offer new information on the negotiations that began earlier this month in Washington, DC.

In 2018, President Donald Trump claimed that South Africa was seizing farms and that many farmers were being killed.

African countries have been targeted in Trump's travel bans while the USA is now considering military cuts on the continent.

As a result of the billions of dollars in loans provided by China towards such projects, the country has become Africa's largest debt holder.

It is not clear how much funds Washington will propose.

Even so, countries like Ethiopia have benefitted from Chinese engagement, rendering Pompeo's message less effective, said Abel Abate Demissie, an Ethiopian political analyst.

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