By Bola Olajuwon, Assistant Editor
SOME professionals have faulted a report by a United States (U.S.) agency, Heritage Foundation, which alleged that China might be spying on African countries.
The experts described such report as mere speculations and hearsays that cannot be substantiated, since there are no concrete evidence to support the claim.
A report released by Heritage Foundation had alleged that Beijing likely has better surveillance access to Africa than anywhere else, having built or renovated at least 186 African government buildings.
The report also concluded that Beijing likely uses surveillance to, among other things, advantage its companies competing for contracts, spy on U.S. officials and influence African officials, advising that the U.S. should try to complicate Beijing in Africa as part of a strategic response to the China’s effort to reshape the global order.
In an interview, the Acting Director of Research and Studies of the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs, Dr. Efem Ubi, said the allegation was “a mere speculation that lacks concrete evidence”.
According to Ubi, spying is part of international political activities engaged in actively by the world super powers.
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The international affairs expert queried: “Who among the super powers is not spying on the developing world and other countries and among themselves? So, espionage or spying is part of international politics and I think a whole lot of countries are involved in it.”
He noted that the claim of espionage against China was baseless as the foundation itself does not have concrete evidence in support of its assertions.
Ubi, however, advised that irrespective of the speculation from differing quarters, African nations should nevertheless continue its fruitful economic relationship with China.
‘‘Irrespective of the position of heritage foundation, and a whole lot of Sinophobia or Sino skeptics, I will also say that we shouldn’t stop our relationship. You must relate. That is where foreign policy comes from. So, I think we shouldn’t bother about espionage. But, we have to also be cautious of the fact that we could be spied on. Be cautious of the fact that a lot of countries may want to infiltrate us especially with the advent of technology’’
He observed that the super-power nations who control the internet and major internet platforms like Google and other social media channels should instead be seen as the greatest spies since these technologies sometimes engaged in individual profiling, which can be termed spying.
President of the Lagos State Chamber of Commerce (LCCI) Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, when approached on the allegation, declined to comment on what she described as “hearsays, which according to her, did not have basis in law”.
Mrs. Mabogunje said: “Primarily, in law, we call it hearsay. We don’t act on hearsays, we don’t act on rumours. We act on things that are evident. With my job, I will need to first find out. Is it true? So, I cannot comment on hearsay. It’s got to be proven. It’s got to be proven facts for me to be able to make a comment.