Chinese influence

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Sierra Leone only the latest African country to rethink a Chinese loan

Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation on September 3, 2018 in Beijing, China.
Sierra Leonean President Julius Maada Bio with Chinese President Xi Jinping on September 3, 2018, in Beijing. Photo: Andy Wong via Getty Images

Last month, Sierra Leone canceled a Chinese loan to build the $318 million Mamamah International Airport in Freetown, a legacy project of the country's previous government. The World Bank and IMF raised concerns about Sierra Leone's debt, and the new government concluded the project was "uneconomical."

Why it matters: U.S. politicians regularly accuse China of debt-trap diplomacy, portraying African countries as victims of bad Chinese deals. But this cancellation is the latest example of African governments' wielding agency in their relations with China: African countries do have a say, and they have room to avoid the pitfalls of unsound projects both before and after they’ve signed.

DOJ launches initiative to counter Chinese economic theft

Chinese flag.
Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Justice Department is creating a "China Initiative" to better identify and counter high-priority Chinese trade theft incidents, as well as threats from foreign direct investment, to critical infrastructure, and the U.S. supply chain.

The context: Attorney General Jeff Sessions explained Thursday that a federal grand jury indicted a Chinese government-owned company, a Taiwanese company, and three individuals with "conspiracy to commit economic espionage" from stolen trade secrets from American semiconductor company, Micron.

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