Allegations of China spying in Africa 'lies'
The African Union’s chairman dismissed during a visit to Beijing yesterday a French newspaper report alleging that China “spied” on the AU as lies intended to derail cooperation.
The report published by Le Monde last month claimed technicians at the AU’s Chinese-built headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa discovered last year that the contents of their computers had been regularly copied to servers in Shanghai since 2012, citing unnamed AU sources.
“I don’t see it is in the interest of China to spy,” AU commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat said during his visit to Beijing, where he met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to discuss deepening cooperation on a variety of issues, as well as opening a representative office in Beijing.
Standing next to Wang, he told reporters that the allegations were all lies, adding that no story “can distract us or divert us from our relations.”
“What I can assure you of is that the relations between China and Africa, as I described, are unwavering. No maneuvers of this type can distract us from our objectives,” Faki said.
“The African Union is an international political organization. It doesn’t process secret defense dossiers. We are an administration and I don’t see what interest there is to China to offer up a building of this type and then to spy,” he said.
“So these are totally false allegations and I believe that we are completely disregarding them.”
The US$200-million headquarters was fully funded and built by China and opened in 2012.
Wang said the AU conference center is “a symbol of Chinese-African friendship” and that China had selflessly built the building. “It cannot be tarnished by any person or any force.”
China-Africa relations had withstood decades of ups and downs and changes in the international arena, Wang added.
“Perhaps some people or forces are unwilling to help Africa themselves and have a feeling of sour grapes about the achievements of China’s cooperation with Africa,” the Chinese foreign minister said. “Any rumors are powerless, and any sowing of discord won’t succeed.”
China has deeply invested in Africa, regularly offering low-interest loans and gifts to individual nations and doing US$149.2 billion in trade with the continent in 2016.
As in the Ethiopian capital, China’s investments in road and rail infrastructure are highly visible across the continent.
At a 2015 summit in South Africa, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged US$60 billion in aid and investment to the continent, saying it would continue to build roads, railways and ports.
Wang announced yesterday that China would hold another summit with African leaders this September in Beijing.