The African Union headquarters, in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, was built by the Chinese.

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A report in a French newspaper leveled the accusation

The African Union chairman also dismissed the claim

Lagos, Nigeria CNN  — 

Leaders of China and the African Union have denied a published report that Beijing spied for years on the African Union headquarters through computer systems it helped install.

Quoting anonymous sources, the French daily newspaper Le Monde reported Friday that data were transferred over five years from the African Union’s Chinese-built headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to its servers in Shanghai.

A spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry said the Le Monde report was based on “groundless accusations.”

“The remarks you mentioned are nonsense and groundless accusations. The African Union center was built at the AU’s request with Chinese government assistance,” Hua Chunying said during a reporters’ briefing in Beijing.

“Our cooperation will never be disrupted by such nonsensical talk,” she added.

African Union spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo also dismissed the Le Monde report as containing “baseless accusations.”

“The AU enjoys excellent relations with China and does not base its judgment on … allegations made in media reports,” Kalondo told CNN.

Spying not China’s ‘specialty,’ AU chief says

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who just took the reins as African Union chairman, reportedly said Monday he did not know about the Le Monde report.

“But, in any case, I don’t think there is anything done here that we would not like people to know. I don’t think spying is the specialty of the Chinese,” Kagame told Reuters.

Kagame said his only concern was that the AU – not China – should have built its headquarters, according to Reuters.

“I would only have wished that in Africa we had got our act together earlier on,” Kagame said. “We should have been able to build our own building.”

CNN’s Bukola Adebayo reported from Lagos and Tim Schwarz reported from Hong Kong.