The African Union does not have secret dossiers and nothing to spy on, a senior official said in Beijing, rejecting a report in French newspaper Le Monde Beijing bugged the regional bloc’s Addis Ababa headquarters.
Le Monde, quoting anonymous AU sources, last month reported data from computers in the Chinese-built building was transferred nightly to Chinese servers for five years.
After the massive hack was discovered a year ago, the building’s IT system including servers was changed, according to Le Monde. During a sweep for bugs after the discovery, microphones hidden in desks and walls were also detected and removed, the newspaper reported.
Speaking to reporters with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at his side, head of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat said the allegations were false.
“What I can assure you of is relations between China and Africa, as I described, are unwavering. No manoeuvres of this type can distract us from our objectives,” Faki said.
“The African Union is an international political organisation. It doesn’t process secret defence 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.
“These are totally false allegations and I believe we are completely disregarding them.”
The $200 million headquarters was fully funded and built by China and opened to great fanfare in 2012. It was seen as a symbol of Beijing’s thrust for influence in Africa and access to the continent’s natural resources.
Wang said he appreciated Faki’s comments and called the headquarters a symbol of China-Africa friendship.
“It cannot be tarnished by any person or force,” Wang said.
China-Africa relations withstood decades of ups and downs and changes in the international arena, he 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,” Wang said.
“Any rumours are powerless and any sowing of discord won’t succeed.”
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 $60 billion in aid and investment to the continent, saying it would continue to build roads, railways and ports.
Separately, Wang announced that China would hold another summit with African leaders this September, in Beijing.