China fully funded the $200 million African Union (AU) building complex in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which serves as its headquarters. The official opening of the building back in 2012 was marked with great fanfare, with people saying it marked the new dawn of a strong relationship between Beijing and the continent of Africa. It showed Beijing’s growing influence in Africa, and the opening up of trade relationship between China and Africa; with Africa giving access to its vast natural resources.
Well, a French newspaper – Le Monde – alleges that Beijing had bugged the building. The paper published report supposedly given to them anonymously by sources at the AU, saying data from computers in the building were being transferred to servers in China every night for the five years. Le Monde further reported that the alleged hack was discovered about a year ago, and the IT systems within the building, including the servers, have since been changed.
On Monday, AU representatives and China jointly came out to deny the report published by Le Monde. The officials from China and AU were attending the annual AU summit in Addis Ababa when they addressed these allegations.
In fact, China’s ambassador to the AU, Kuang Weiling termed the article as “ridiculous and preposterous,” saying the article was maliciously intended to sabotage the relationship between China and Africa.
“China-Africa relations have brought about benefits and a lot of opportunities. Africans are happy with it. Others are not.”
When Weiling was tasked to explain, who these “others” were, he said: “People in the West. They are not used to it, and they are simply not comfortable with this.”
The AU chairman and Rwandan President Paul Kagame was asked for his comment on the report, and he said he was not aware of such a hacking at the building.
“But, in any case, I don’t think there is anything done here that we would not like people to know,” Kagame told reporters.
“I don’t think spying is the speciality of the Chinese. We have spies all over the place in this world. But I will not have been worried about being spied on in this building.”
The only concern Kagame shared with the reporters is that he wished the AU had built its own headquarters instead of China. He said, “I would only have wished that in Africa we had got our act together earlier on. We should have been able to build our own building.”
It might pick your interest to know that the U.S. Congress proposed a bill seeking to prevent all branches of the government from working with any service providers who use equipment made by Huawei and ZTE; the two biggest telecommunication infrastructure makers from China. Huawei also doubles up as a leading smartphone and other mobile devices maker in the world.
Lenovo, a world-renowned computer manufacturer, has been tainted with accusations of conducting espionage for Beijing in the Caribbean. Through the donation of computers, to government officials and ministries that were bugged and allowed Beijing to listen in on the business of governments in the Caribbean.