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Chinese media slash African Union spying claim

(People's Daily Online)    14:52, February 07, 2018

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One week after French paper Le Monde dropped a bombshell story about China allegedly bugging African Union’s (AU) Headquarters, the country’s major media outlets have struck back at their French counterparts, calling for more stable Sino-African ties amid the upcoming China-African Union Strategic Dialogue.

In a commentary released on Wednesday by People’s Daily, the accusation was described as “an ill-intentioned slander against China,” which unveils “certain countries’” anxiety over the thriving Sino-African relations.

“Le Monde has bent over backwards to cook up such a groundless accusation right before the opening of the 30th African Union Summit. Obviously [certain countries] have lost control as they cannot pacify their anxiety over the growing Sino-African ties,” read the editorial.

The AU headquarters, which is located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was funded and largely built by China in 2012, and it serves as a symbol of China’s partnership with the AU and its member states. Ever since its establishment, Western media outlets have doubted China’s “intentions” to help the African states, hyping up speculation that the building was built to eavesdrop on the AU.

Such commonplace practice is denounced by both China and Africa. According to Xinhua, African leaders, including AU Commission Chair Moussa Faki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, noted that no trace of espionage was found in the AU building.

China and African countries have maintained traditionally friendly relations for decades. In January, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi noted that China’s diplomatic tradition of foreign ministers visiting Africa first indicates that Africa has always been a priority in China’s diplomacy.

Meanwhile, growing trade between the two sides has also led to deepened political and cultural exchanges. Statistics from the World Bank suggest that China is a destination for 15 to 16 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s exports and the source of 14 to 21 percent of the region’s imports, a remarkable number that contributed to an upgrade of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2018 to a summit, the third one after the Johannesburg Summit in 2015 and the Beijing Summit in 2006.

The feeling is mutual. According to Afrobarometer, an African-led research network which conducted surveys in 36 African countries in 2017, 63 percent of respondents thought China’s economic and political influence in their country was positive, while China’s investment in infrastructure and development in Africa is highly appreciated.

“As the saying goes, justice naturally inhabits a man’s heart. Only Africans know if Sino-African cooperation would bring them benefits. The China-African Cooperation Summit, which will be held in Beijing this year, will only push Sino-African relations to a new peak despite the groundless rumors,” read the People's Daily article.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Kou Jie, Bianji)

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