President Zuma holds bilateral discussions with President Xi Jinping. South Africa’s relations with China are at the level of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Picture: GCIS
The French newspaper Le Monde recently published an article accusing China of wiretapping the AU headquarters.

The paper claims that China has been transmitting computer data from the Chinese-built AU headquarters to a server in Shanghai every night since 2012, and that this came to the AU’s attention only last year.

We are not at all surprised by such a fabricated report from Le Monde and other western media. In fact, we think these fictitious reports don’t even deserve a response, because China understands only too well what the media are up to in spreading falsehoods such as this.

We are very happy to see that, in the days following this false report, Prime Minister Hailemariam of Ethiopia, chairperson Moussa Faki of the AU Commission, and many other African leaders have stepped up to reject and condemn the report.

Unfortunately, a small number of African media claimed that the story is true.

For China, it is not the story itself, but the fact that some of our African media friends have easily accepted this distorted report without seeking the truth, that is particularly distressing.

For China, this uncritical buying into a false report represents a cruel negation of the selfless assistance offered by the Chinese government and Chinese people to Africa. It is also an expression of grave disrespect for China’s firm commitment to the principles of sincerity, practical results, affinity and good faith in developing relations and co-operation with Africa.

It is common knowledge that China and Africa have maintained good relations through thick and thin.

In the 1960s and 1970s, in order to support Africa’s national liberation and political independence, the Chinese people tightened their belts to build the Tanzania-Zambia railway. Sixty-five sons and daughters of China sacrificed their lives for this railway construction.

As the world’s largest developing country, China has always stood shoulder-to-shoulder with its African brothers and sisters, and has consistently supported all friendly African countries to the limits of possibility.

According to incomplete statistics, China has helped Africa build over 80 sports stadiums, more than 200 schools, and 20 parliamentary buildings. China has financed and built over 6 500km of railways, over 6000km of roads, 70 plus power plants and numerous airports, seaports, and government buildings.

China has played a unique and important role in supporting Africa to realise self-sustainable development.

The AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, completed in 2011, is among the projects that China has supported in Africa. The building complex was a gift from the Chinese people to the African people. It is an example of China’s efforts to support African integration and unity.

The request to build this modern building complex on the African continent was made by the African Union and friendly African countries. It is yet another symbol of China-Africa friendship in the new century.

Since taking office, Chinese President Xi Jinping has given clear instructions that China’s relations with Africa must be conducted according to the principles of sincerity, practical results, affinity and good faith, and that every effort must be made to uphold the values of friendship, justice and shared interests.

In essence, China’s self-development and Africa’s realisation of self-sustainable development are closely aligned with the aim of achieving a win-win outcome through co-operation for common development.

In an effort to support Africa to break through the three development bottlenecks, namely, inadequate infrastructure, lack of professional and skilled personnel, and a shortage of financial resources, during the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation Johannesburg summit in December 2015, President Xi Jinping announced that that China would roll out ten major plans worth $60 billion (R725bn) to boost industrialisation and agricultural modernisation in Africa.

Thanks to the joint efforts of African countries and China, remarkable progress has been made in implementing these plans. Today, China is Africa’s largest trading partner and major investor.

In the first half of 2017, two-way trade between China and Africa moved against downward pressure and registered a significant growth of 19%, totalling $85.3bn (R1 trillian).

China has become Africa’s most important investor in infrastructure development. A large number of flagship projects, including the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, Mombasa-Nairobi Railway, and the Abuja-Kaduna Rail in Nigeria, have all been completed and are operating.

China-Africa co-operation is evident in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and the Republic of Congo and in over ten major production countries, which include South Africa, Zambia, Uganda and Nigeria.

As a result of the large number of Chinese investors that have taken an interest in Africa, numerous jobs have been created for local people.

As China-Africa co-operation gathers momentum, benefits are being reaped by all sectors of African society.

China strongly believes that without economic independence, there will never be true political independence. That is why the Chinese government has made a political commitment to earnestly helping African countries realise economic independence in order to achieve complete political independence.

China’s pursuit of equality, mutual trust, and mutually beneficial co-operation is fundamental to China’s policy towards Africa.

In working with its African brothers and sisters, China never attaches any political strings or pre-conditions; never makes an African country act against its will; never interferes with another country’s domestic affairs; and never makes empty promises to its African brothers and sisters.

China has never had any problems in exchanging information with its African brothers and sisters and therefore has absolutely no need to resort to the despicable and disgraceful moves used by certain countries to gather information from other countries.

Maybe the Western media have forgotten that all the computers in the AU building carry chips that are made and controlled by the West.

Unfortunately, certain countries want to keep Africa permanently trapped in poverty, conflicts and instability, so that they can continue colonising, controlling and manipulating Africa.

They themselves don’t want to help Africa realise durable peace and self-sustainable development. Even worse, they don’t want China and other countries to help Africa.

These countries are deeply nervous about - and frustrated by - China’s large-scale efforts to support Africa to realise self-sustainable development. That is why they have resorted to using the media to fabricate lies and to mislead and manipulate public opinion.

Their intention is clear: to discourage China’s commitment to Africa; to derail Africa’s efforts for self-sustainable development; to divide and disrupt China-Africa co-operation, and eventually to weaken and divide Africa.

It is for this reason that Le Monde has calculatingly chosen to run this story during the AU Summit. The publication’s ulterior motive is all too clear.

It is necessary to point out that to uphold sound China-Africa co-operation serves the fundamental development interests of African countries and African people.

As witnesses, recorders, and storytellers of China-Africa co-operation, African media friends have for many years played an irreplaceable role in consolidating friendship and promoting co-operation between China and Africa.

The West has always viewed China and Africa through a coloured lens, and has always tried to smear and to cast China-Africa co-operation in a negative light. With their incurable political bias, it is simply unrealistic to expect Western media to tell the real and truthful stories, still less, to tell the many good and positive stories about China-Africa co-operation.

Failing to understand such a basic reality and blindly following the Western lead would make African media easy victims of the West.

In the final analysis, it is not only China’s image that is tarnished, but also Africa’s essential and long-term development interests.

As Africa’s true friend and reliable development partner, China will never act against the interest of the African continent and her people.

It is our sincere hope that friends from the African media can travel around the continent to places like Addis Ababa and see for themselves what China has been doing in Africa, and what those countries that are frightened by China- Africa co-operation have been doing in Africa.

Seeing is believing.

It’s expected that the African media will not dance to the tune of Western media and fall into the trap of the lies perpetuated by Western media.

By doing so, innocent African people will be misled and the warm enthusiasm and sincere feelings of the Chinese government and the Chinese people towards Africa will be undermined.

We sincerely hope that our African journalist friends can leverage their own unique strengths to tell real and vivid stories of China-Africa friendship and win-win co-operation for common development.

I have strong confidence and belief that African media can play a powerful role in championing China-Africa friendship and defending the shared interests of China-Africa co-operation.

* HE Ambassador Lin Songtian is the People’s Republic of China’s ambassador to South Africa

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

The Star