Washington urged to give responsible explanation over spying on UN chief
Published: Apr 19, 2023 07:32 PM
Cartoon: Liu Rui/GT

Cartoon: Liu Rui/GT

The US owes the international community, especially the UN, an explanation and should take concrete actions to fulfill its responsibility and obligations as the host country of the UN headquarters, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Wednesday, after the UN formally lodged concerns to the US over reports of the US spying on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and other senior UN officials. 

The news about US spying on countries, including its allies, and international organizations has created international furore. However, this is not the first time that such scandals involving the US have been revealed, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said during Wednesday's routine press briefing.  

"The US says it's important to protect information security, yet it has placed information security traps worldwide," Wang said. 

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday that the UN has officially expressed its concern to the US regarding Washington's reported spying on Secretary-General Guterres and other senior UN officials, according to a Reuters report. 

Dujarric told media that the US' actions are "inconsistent with the obligations of the US as enumerated in the Charter of the UN and the convention on the privileges and immunities of the UN."

The UN's response is the latest episode in the drama related to the embarrassing leak of highly classified Pentagon documents, which disclosed sensitive information on US' spying activities on allies and foes. According to media reports, at least four of Guterres' conversations with other UN officials have been spied on by the US, including talks on the Russia-Ukraine crisis. 

"The voices from the UN represent the mainstream opinion of the international community, which indicates that the US' worldwide spying activities are against international norms and rules that the US always pays lip service to, and should be condemned," Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

The long-time spying activities conducted by the US on others is extremely destructive to world order and stability, which will substantially weaken its "leadership" and soft power and damage trust from allies, Li remarked. 

In addition to the UN's complaints, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday accused the US of spying and interference on its neighbor, saying that Mexico would classify information from the armed forces to protect national security, "because we're a target of spying by the Pentagon," according to US media reports. 

Some US media outlets, like The New York Times, said that the newly disclosed US spying on allies, which is unlike the world-shaking PRISM program in 2013, has resulted in "limited outrage." However, Chinese experts said it reflects more of its allies' helplessness in dealing with the US bully. 

Allies are so dependent on the US for security that they cannot do much about US wiretapping and espionage, a vivid reflection of the unequal relationship between allies and the US, Li said.

As long as their security depends on the US, then the wiretapping is unlikely to stop, he added. 

The US hegemonic mentality in handling international affairs is increasingly criticized by other countries in the international community. While some allies do not take a public stand, their discontent with the US is accumulating, He said.