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How the US and China Struggle to Balance Interests & Ideals in Ethiopia

In April, visiting US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Wendy Sherman, showered her Ethiopian hosts in Addis Ababa with effusive praise about their country’s budding “democracy.” She expressed her hope that upcoming elections in May 2015 would be “free, fair and credible and open and inclusive.” Her comments were widely panned given Ethiopia’s dismal human rights record, yet it revealed a pattern in US foreign policy where Washington’s democratic ideals are often suppressed when its strategic interests are at stake as they are in Ethiopia today. Ethiopia is a country very much ‘in play’ in terms of how Addis Ababa will politically align itself: with the liberal democracies of the West (unlikely) or China’s authoritarian capitalist model (more likely).

This week Eric & Cobus are joined by James Williams, an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina in the United States, to discuss the battle between US and China’s ideals and interests in countries like Ethiopia. James recently led a course at UNC on China/Africa relations and was an organizer of a major academic conference at Duke/UNC on China’s grand foreign policy strategy in Africa.

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