DAKAR, Senegal -- Growing security threats from Islamist militants and China's increasing influence throughout Africa are topping the agenda as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton begins an 11-day swing around the continent.

Clinton arrived in Senegal yesterday at the beginning of her latest marathon overseas journey, which will take her to at least seven African nations, including the world's newest country, South Sudan, as well as Uganda, Kenya, Malawi and South Africa. She will wrap up the trip in Ghana, where she will attend the state funeral for the country's late president, John Atta Mills, who died unexpectedly last week.

She started the tour in the Senegalese capital of Dakar, where U.S. officials said she would give a speech warning African states about the potential perils of Chinese investment, which many development experts claim enriches China at Africa's expense. She will say that proper development will blunt the appeal of extremist groups that are gaining power in Nigeria and Mali and still threaten Somalia.

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Without mentioning China by name, Clinton will urge African leaders to carefully consider projects proposed by foreign countries that do not demand complete accountability and may encourage corruption to the detriment of the people of some of the world's most impoverished nations, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to preview the speech.

The United States is increasingly concerned about China's growing interest in Africa, the result of its massive demand for energy and natural resources to fuel its exploding economy. U.S. officials, including Clinton, have in the past expressed deep reservations about China's practice of setting up huge infrastructure or other building projects, employing only Chinese workers and ignoring human rights and democratic principles.-- AP