Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton launched a tour across Africa on Tuesday by promising "partnership, not patronage," with African nations.
"America will stand up for democracy and universal human rights even when it might be easier or more profitable to look the other way, to keep the resources flowing," Clinton said in a speech in Dakar, Senegal, the first stop on her 11-day trip across the continent.
Her words were widely seen as an implied swipe at China, which has ramped up trade with African countries while coming under fire for human rights abuses. Beijing has outpaced the West in courting African leaders, recently pledging $20 billion in loans over the next three years.
South African President Jacob Zuma recently said China treated Africans more equitably than Europeans. But China has also been criticized by some African leaders for using Chinese rather than African labor and for focusing on extracting raw materials as opposed to other kinds of trade.
In her speech, Clinton depicted the U.S. as a partner that would protect human rights and democracy. "The days of having outsiders come and extract the wealth of Africa for themselves, leaving nothing or very little behind, should be over in the 21st century," Clinton said.
Clinton also praised Senegal for its long and stable history as a democracy, reaffirmed this year when power was peacefully handed off to newly elected President Macky Sall. She drew a stark contrast between its democracy and coups this year in Mali and Guinea-Bissau.
Clinton is expected to stop in South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi and South Africa on her trip, according to the State Department. The Associated Press reported she would also go to Ghana to attend the state funeral for late President John Atta Mills.
-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles
Photo: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton kicks off her visit to Africa at the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal, on Wednesday. Credit: Tanya Bindra / EPA