Harris heads to Africa in diplomatic test as US-China relations appear frayed

Kamala Harris
FILE – Vice President Kamala Harris answers a question about her upcoming trip to Africa, after swearing in Eric Garcetti as Ambassador to India, Friday, March 24, 2023, in her ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File) Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Harris heads to Africa in diplomatic test as US-China relations appear frayed

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Vice President Kamala Harris is heading to Africa on Saturday with stops scheduled in Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia during her week-long tour of the continent. This trip comes as reports have been swirling about President Joe Biden‘s unhappiness with her performance.

Harris is traveling with her husband, Doug Emhoff, and is scheduled to arrive on Sunday in Ghana’s capital of Accra.


She plans to discuss economic development, regional democracy, climate change and food security. Harris told reporters earlier this month that she planned to go to Africa to focus on “climate resilience and adaptation.”

On Friday, reporters asked her how she was preparing for her first trip to Africa and she said she has been “bringing in experts” and “reading a lot.” She expressed optimism about “what the partnership will produce” between the U.S. and Africa.

Harris’ itinerary will include three nights in Ghana, two nights in Tanzania and one in Zambia. She plans to give a speech and visit a recording studio in Accra, make a visit to the historic Cape Coast Castle and lay a wreath to commemorate the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in the capital of Tanzania.

This trip will be a test of Vice President Harris’ ability to step up for the Biden administration’s diplomatic efforts and will help boost her foreign policy credentials. Former anonymous Biden White House employees have reportedly expressed President Biden’s frustration with her inability to “rise to the occasion.”

“A point of tension in their relationship is that I don’t think that the president sees her as somebody who takes anything off of his plate [due to] a fear of messing up,” one former White House official said.

Harris’ high profile trip to Africa highlights the Biden administration’s efforts to diplomatically attempt to counter China’s growing influence in the continent.

China has been actively courting African countries for their resources and helping build infrastructure and provide economic incentives in exchange. The country recently built two state-of-the-art international airports and launched a hydropower station in Zambia.

Zambia is an important exporter of raw materials which are key to China’s growing economic ambitions.

Fred Mmembe, the president of Zambia’s Socialist Party questioned the purpose of Harris’ trip.

“It’s not democracy and human rights they are pursuing in Africa. They are pursuing their geopolitical interests; they are pursuing their own economic interests. It is not for us, it is for them,” Mmembe said.


First lady Jill Biden recently went on a five-day trip to Namibia and Kenya in February to promote democracy and raise awareness of drought and food shortages. While in Africa, she admitted in an interview that she was “all for” her husband running again in 2024.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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