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.
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid