News / Africa

US Diplomat: China Displays 'No Morals' in Africa

The Internet homepage of Wikileaks is shown in this photo taken in New York,  1 Dec.  2010.
The Internet homepage of Wikileaks is shown in this photo taken in New York, 1 Dec. 2010.

Newly leaked U.S. diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks show senior U.S. officials in Africa were highly critical of China's economic policies on the continent and made sometimes embarrassing comments about African leaders and crises. The revelations have angered U.S. officials who say they are illegal and dangerous.

The secret communications, released Thursday by the online website WikiLeak, received widespread coverage in the news media.

What secret cables said

One leaked cable quoted a senior U.S. diplomat as calling China an "aggressive economic competitor" in Africa with no morals and saying human rights groups criticize Beijing for supporting authoritarian regimes on the continent.

Chinese investment in Africa has grown from $200 million to $1.5 billion in 10 years and some 1600 Chinese businesses are said to be operating on the continent. Beijing says it is supporting African development and does not interfere in local politics. 

WikiLeaks also published cables outlining a plan three years ago to peacefully ease Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe from power.

In another document written early this year, a diplomat in Nigeria worried that the West African nation was teetering on the brink of a constitutional crisis as its then-president, the late Umaru Yar'Adua lay in a semi-coma due to illness. He subsequently died and was succeeded by then-vice president, Goodluck Jonathan.

US condemns leaks

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley (file photo)
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley (file photo)

U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley Wednesday reiterated U.S. condemnation of the leaks and its founder, Julian Assange.

"In our view he has done substantial damage to the interests of the United States and the interests of other countries around the world," said Crowley.

Retired U.S. Diplomat Brooks Specter, who is now a Contributing Editor to South Africa's Daily Maverick online journal, said the leaked material, if authentic, provided fairly accurate insights into how embassies operate.

"These aren't insights that the U.S. government was desperate to hand out to people because a lot of it is material which makes judgments, makes judgments about a foreign leader or about circumstances, a situation, in a foreign country," said Specter. "But it seems to me that most of these judgments really look like people are straining hard to come to grips with something which they don't always have all the pieces to yet."

Criticism

WikiLeaks also published documents in which a U.S. diplomat in Kenya warned that the East African nation could descend into violence worse than that following the elections three years ago unless reforms were accelerated and corruption addressed.

Another document alleged that illegal diamond trading in Zimbabwe had led to the deaths of thousands of people while enriching senior members of its political elite.

Some cables provided frank, if sometimes unflattering, impressions of leaders such as South African Presidents Jacob Zuma and Thabo Mbeki and Zimbabwean leaders Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai.

Former U.S. diplomat Specter says a document identifying a possible informant could endanger that person's life, as U.S. officials claim. And he says the individuals who leaked the documents were clearly violating their security clearances and a number of laws.

Appropriateness debate

But opinions differ over the appropriateness of publishing such documents once they have been leaked. Most people favor freedom of information. And diplomats and politicians themselves routinely provide sensitive information to journalists to further their interests.

Specter says because of the evolution of communications the world is at a crossroads in the way secret information is handled.

"No matter who you are, no matter what institution you represent, you're probably now beginning to wonder whether or not what you put in your documents is going to be read by millions on the front page of Der Spiegel [magazine] or the New York Times [newspaper] next month," said Specter.  "And that's going to change the nature of diplomatic discourse. It's going to change the way the U.S. government, and others, treat its secret material."

He notes that following the terrorist attacks in 2001 U.S. officials broadened access to sensitive material within the government in order to improve communications between security agencies. Since the WikiLeaks revelations such access has been considerably tightened.

 

 

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid