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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid