China's foreign minister visits 'good brother' Zimbabwe
Harare (AFP) Feb 10, 2011
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi arrived in Zimbabwe on Thursday for a two-day visit to bolster ties with a country he described as a "good brother."
"China is ready to work with Zimbabwe to further enhance political mutual trust, expand mutually beneficial cooperation and steadily elevate our friendship and cooperation," Yang said in a statement issued on his arrival.
"China sets store by its relations with Zimbabwe and regards Zimbabwe as a good friend, good brother and good partner."
Yang was met at the airport by Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and several senior government officials.
On Friday the minister will hold separate meetings with President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his counterpart Mumbengegwi before launching an agricultural research centre at a college outside the capital, said China's ambassador in Harare Xin Shunkang.
Xin added that the minister would sign various business deals during his stay.
Yang's visit comes weeks after Zimbabwe's investment promotion minister, Tapiwa Mashakada, announced plans by the China Development Bank to fund investments worth $10 billion in Zimbabwe's mining, agriculture and infrastructure sectors.
Zimbabwe and China have political ties dating back to before Zimbabwe's independence, when Beijing provided arms and training to guerrillas fighting British colonial rule.
China has also been pivotal in protecting Zimbabwe at the United Nations. In 2008 China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution seeking sanctions against Harare.
earlier related report
Yang's two-day visit is "to further consolidate bonds and friendships between our two peoples," the Chinese embassy in Harare said.
He is expected to meet President Robert Mugabe and senior government officials but government has not revealed details of the meeting.
"We are confident that after Minister Yang's visit, Sino-Zimbabwe relations will be uplifted to a higher level," ambassador Xin Shunkang told journalists, when announcing Yang's visit.
Yang's visit comes weeks after Zimbabwe's investment promotion minister Tapiwa Mashakada announced plans by China Development Bank to fund investments worth $10 billion in Zimbabwe's mining, agriculture and infrastructure sectors.
Zimbabwe and China have political ties dating back before Zimbabwe's independence when Beijing provided arms and training to guerrillas fighting British colonial rule.
China has also been pivotal in protecting Zimbabwe at the UN. In 2008 China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution seeking sanctions against Harare.
Chinese construction companies are involved in major projects in Zimbabwe, including the construction of the country's main sports stadium and several government buildings.
Ambassador Xin said Yang's visit at the invitation of his Zimbabwe counterpart was to "show our support to Zimbabwe's justified requests at international arena and exploit and expand our mutually beneficial co-operation."
In 2010 China exported $159 million worth of goods to Zimbabwe, according to the national statistics agency.
"Chinese companies have made inroads in the main sectors of the economy," said Takavafira Zhou, a political scientist from Masvingo State University.
"We maybe apportioning the country to the Chinese companies and regret later. What we are having is Chinese imperialism. The Chinese businesses are killing local companies and unfortunately with the blessing of ZANU-PF," said Zhou, referring to Mugabe's party.
Faced with the crippling western sanctions, Mugabe adopted a "look east" policy, which saw the country receiving loans from a number of eastern nations.
Political commentator Christopher Mutsvangwa said Yang's impending visit was an affirmation of burgeoning ties.
"The political bond is now taking an economic dimension as China is looking at business opportunities in Zimbabwe," Mutsvangwa, a former ambassador to China, said.
In recent years, Chinese traders have moved into shops previously left empty at the height of the country's economic crisis. But Asians have been criticised for flooding the local market with cheap-quality imports, derisively referred to as "zhingzhong" which have been blamed for putting locals out of business.
"Mugabe has stated several times that he was looking east in terms of investment...perhaps China can fill a void where the west has left gaps," said Sanusha Naidu, research director for emerging powers in Africa Initiative for Fahamu, a human rights and social justice advocacy group.
"China is also looking at resources that Zimbabwe has. The visit could be also about looking at the other actors in the Zimbabwe economy in terms of how Chinese investors compete with South African and Indian investors," Naidu said.
Sanne van der Lugt, a research analyst at the Centre for Chinese Studies at South Africa's Stellenbosch University, said China is one of Zimbabwe's few remaining friends.
Zimbabwe's economy is recovering from a decade long political crisis which paralysed the economy and shut down industries. The crisis ended with a shaky powersharing government between Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
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Harare, Zimbabwe (AFP) Feb 6, 2011
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi visits Zimbabwe on Thursday to buttress ties between the Asian powerhouse which has solidly backed the southern African nation battered by western isolation. Yang's two-day visit is "to further consolidate bonds and friendships between our two peoples," the Chinese embassy in Harare said. He is expected to meet President Robert Mugabe and senior gover ... read more
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