China, African Union deny report bloc’s building was bugged

February 8, 2018
Chairman of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi smile at the end of a joint press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. Chinese and African officials have lashed out at a recent report alleging Chinese workers bugged the African Union headquarters and suggested it was a ploy to destabilize relations. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese and African officials on Thursday denounced a report alleging Chinese construction workers bugged the African Union headquarters, suggesting it was a ploy to destabilize relations.

African Union chairman Moussa Faki told reporters in Beijing he didn’t believe China would spy on the bloc’s headquarters in Addis Ababa.

The allegations are “all lies,” Faki said after meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

“No maneuvers could distract and divert us from our mission” of strengthening relations with China, said Faki, who, flanked by Wang, announced the African Union would open a new office in Beijing later this year. The office is to receive Chinese government support, but it wasn’t clear who would fund its operations.

Wang noted that the bugging allegation surfaced in Western media and said “attempts to divide China and Africa will not succeed.”

“Some people, some powers don’t want to help Africa’s development,” Wang said, adding that China was a “selflessly” helping Africa’s growth while other countries have their own agendas.

French newspaper Le Monde reported last month that China bugged the $200 million facility it funded and built in Ethiopia’s capital in 2012. The report cited unnamed African Union officials.

China has poured investments into Africa in the past decade, including a commitment to offer $60 billion in loans and export credits made by President Xi Jinping in late 2015.

Some Western institutions and analysts have questioned whether China-funded projects have been tainted by corruption or handed Beijing undue influence over the continent’s affairs.

The quality and necessity of some projects has also been questioned, with African countries often saddled with massive debts that they can only repay by handing over assets such as oil reserves.

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