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

Amnesty: EU Failing Migrants, Refugees

Rights group says migrants, refugees subject to detention, extortion, beatings More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office 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.
Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deali
X
July 07, 2015 12:02 PM
If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs