President Trump, seeking to counter China’s growing geopolitical influence, is embracing a major expansion of foreign aid that will bankroll infrastructure projects in Africa, Asia and the Americas — throwing his support behind an initiative he once sought to scuttle.
With little fanfare, Mr. Trump signed a bill a little over a week ago that created a new foreign aid agency — the United States International Development Finance Corporation — and gave it authority to provide $60 billion in loans, loan guarantees and insurance to companies willing to do business in developing nations.
The move was a significant reversal for Mr. Trump, who has harshly criticized foreign aid from the opening moments of his presidential campaign in 2015. Since becoming president, Mr. Trump has proposed slashing $3 billion in overseas assistance, backed eliminating funding for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and taken steps to gut the United States Agency for International Development, the State Department agency that dispenses $22.7 billion a year in grants around the world.
The president’s shift has less to do with a sudden embrace of foreign aid than a desire to block Beijing’s plan for economic, technological and political dominance. China has spent nearly five years bankrolling a plan to gain greater global influence by financing big projects across Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa.