China Again Accused Of Spying As African Union Headquarters It Built Found To Be BuggedThe African Union crest at the AU building in Addis Ababa. (Sean Gallup via Getty Images)

China has again been accused of state-sponsored espionage after several information backdoors were discovered in the African Union (AU) headquarters it built in the Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

The AU is a bloc of the 55 countries in Africa, where China has been trying to spread it’s influence in quest of the natural resources the continent holds. As part of it’s African outreach, China had financed and built the AU headquarters at a cost of $200 million in 2012. The building was inaugurated with much fanfare as a symbol and was meant to be a symbol of Chinese-African partnership.

However, an investigation by the French newspaper Le Monde has revealed that data from the servers in the AU headquarters was being transferred to Shanghai every night since the last five years, starting 2012. A followup sweep of the building led to the discovery of microphones embedded in desks and walls of the building revealing major cracks in the building’s security.

“The new building, ‘China's Gift to Friends of Africa’, was donated just six years ago. It has been fully equipped by the Chinese. The computer systems were delivered turnkey. And Chinese engineers have deliberately left two flaws: backdoors, which give discrete access to all internal exchanges and productions of the organisation,’ wrote Le Monde.

The AU has since replaced the Chinese machines with it’s own servers and is moving to encrypt it’s data and communications.

China dismissed the accusations and the Chinese ambassador to AU, Kuang Weilin called the report ‘absurd’. He attacked the newspaper itself saying, "I really question its intention,” and that the report “will undermine and send a very negative message to people. I think it is not good for the image of the newspaper itself.”

Chinese firms have often been accused of spying on behest of the Chinese government, with Huawei even losing a deal with AT&T in the United States over espionage concerns.

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