There is nothing new about governments spying on each other. They do it all the time. So African officials should not be surprised that Chinese state contractors hard-wired the AU headquarters in Ethiopia to Beijing. They were given the opportunity by the pan-African body not only to construct the building but to provide everything inside, from phones and voting technology to furniture, and to maintain these on contracts paid by Beijing. What is more surprising is that the AU was so willing to invite Chinese ears in. The new building, which dominates the skyline of Addis Ababa, was financed by Beijing to the tune of $200m and opened at a 2012 summit by then Chinese president Hu Jintao. At the time, the EU was by far the biggest donor to AU operations including peacekeeping. But Europe was upstaged at an event that signalled the shift taking place as African countries shook off jaded and cautious former colonial powers and embraced new commercial suitors from among the emerging power...

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