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China dismisses 'absurd' African Union HQ spying claim

Delegates arriving to attend the 28th African Union (AU) Heads of State Summit are pictured against a background of the AU hearquarters prior to the opening ceremony on January 30, 2017 in Addis Ababa Image copyright AFP

China has dismissed reports it bugged the African Union (AU) headquarters as “preposterous”.

Kuang Weilin, the Chinese ambassador to the AU, told reporters in Ethiopia the “absurd” claim in France’s Le Monde was “very difficult to understand”.

He spoke out three days after the newspaper published an article claiming data from the Chinese-built AU building was being copied to Shanghai.

The article said the discovery resulted in all the AU servers being switched.

Le Monde spoke to a number of anonymous sources, who claimed the alleged transfer was taking place late at night [link in French], and was only spotted in January 2017 due to the spike in activity between midnight and 02:00, despite no-one being in the building.

It was suggested the alleged data transfer had been taking place since 2012, when the building, in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, was opened.

Officials also brought in security experts from Algeria to sweep the entire headquarters for potential bugs, the newspaper said, leading to the discovery of microphones in desks.

But Mr Kuang – who hailed the headquarters as a “monument” to his country’s relationship with the continent – said it was entirely untrue.

“I really question its intention,” he told reporters on Monday. “I think it will undermine and send a very negative message to people. I think it is not good for the image of the newspaper itself.

“Certainly, it will create problems for China-Africa relations.”


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