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Nov 20, 2016

Although leaders in Asia, Europe and the Americas are struggling to figure out what are the implications of Donald J. Trump's election to the U.S. presidency. At least in those regions, the president-elect made passing references during the campaign to Japan’s future security status, or whether Washington should continue to support NATO and, of course, his desire to build that great wall along the U.S.-Mexican border. Africa, by contrast, was barely discussed, if at all, during the seemingly never-ending 18-month duel between Trump and his former rival Hillary Clinton. Now, with the election settled, African policy makers are struggling to figure out what it will mean for their countries when a potentially-isolationist U.S. president assumes power next January.
 
There are early indications that some African countries may lean further in to China’s embrace to compensate for what they expect could be a retrenchment in U.S. trade, investment and overall engagement on the continent. For Beijing, this could be a huge opportunity to strengthen its diplomatic positioning in Africa as the Chinese continue their massive aid, infrastructure and investment drive across the continent. All that Chinese money is also now paying dividends in the form of improved public opinion towards the Chinese in Africa which, according to a 2016 Afrobarometer survey, has been steadily rising. So if Washington either falters or retreats from constructive engagement in Africa, China may in fact be a major beneficiary.

South Africa, in particular, has been steadily shifting its foreign policy away from the West towards China for the past five years. Now, with the election of Donald Trump, Pretoria "should no longer count on Washington in the international community as its done in the past" warns University of the Witswatersrand international relations professor John Stremlau. Dr. Stremlau joins Eric & Cobus to discuss why he thinks president-elect Trump is such a threat to African stability and how this new direction in U.S. foreign policy could re-shape Africa’s international relations.

Join the discussion. Do you think it’s premature to be worried about president-elect Trump’s foreign policy in Africa and how it might damage relations with Africa while helping China’s engagement on the continent? Tell us what you think?

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Twitter: @eolander | @stadenesque