Although noting that the new US strategy would include trade and counterterrorism, Bolton devoted most of his speech to opposing the “predatory” ambitions of Russia and China, who “are deliberately and aggressively targeting their investments in the region to gain a competitive advantage over the United States,” the BBC reported.
“Under our new approach, every decision we make, every policy we pursue, and every dollar of aid we spend will further US priorities in the region,” Bolton said in a speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.
Those projects, he said, were turning some African countries into economic vassals of China. Zambia owes Beijing $6 billion to $10 billion, according to Bolton, and is at risk of having the Chinese take over its national power company.
Bolton also highlighted Chinese influence in Djibouti, which he said could have a direct impact on a US military base that is used for countering terrorism in the region. Earlier this year, Bolton said the Chinese fired military-grade laser beams at American aircraft, injuring two pilots.
“[Russia] continues to sell arms and energy in exchange for votes in the United Nations" and is extracting “natural resources from the region for its own benefit”, Bolton added.
The newly announced strategy fits in line with measures the Trump administration has been taking to gain influence on the African continent. Earlier this year, Trump signed a bill to double the funding of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, which finances American businesses in developing nations. Starting in October, the agency will have $60 billion to dole out in the form of loans, loan insurance and equity.