Zimbabwe’s relationship with one of the global heavyweights, China, continues to grow
building on the strong bilateral ties that the two countries traditionally share.
These ties, established during the time of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle against British colonialism, have been nurtured to this day, making Harare and Beijing all-weather friends.
Politically, China has been invaluable to Zimbabwe.
China was the first country to establish full diplomatic ties with a newly-independent Zimbabwe when the country gained independence from Britain on April 18, 1980.
Beijing has supported Harare in the face of illegal Western sanctions imposed on the country. In 2008, China – along with Russia and other members of the United Nations Security Council – blocked an attempt by the United States and Britain to get the world body to impose an embargo on Zimbabwe.
The Look East Policy that the Government of Zimbabwe adopted as the official investment philosophy against the background of a Western neo-colonialist onslaught has seen China emerging as the focal point of that policy.
Zimbabwe, as a colonial legacy, had tended to look to the West for markets, spares and investment which made the country susceptible to Western manipulations.
Happily for Zimbabwe, the Look East Policy has paid dividends.
With the characteristic respect and mutual interest that China holds, the soon-to-be biggest economy in the world has looked back West at Zimbabwe as the country looked East.
The visits to Zimbabwe by the Chinese Foreign Minister and Vice Premier this year alone demonstrates the importance that the global powerhouse attaches to Zimbabwe.
In the recent visit Vice Premier, Mr Wang Qishang, pledged his country’s continued support for Zimbabwe’s economic recovery efforts and called for the removal of the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by America and the European Union.
During his visit, Zimbabwe and China signed various agreements in different fields. The first agreement for financial assistance was signed by Zimbabwean Minister of Finance, Mr Tendai Biti and the Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce, Mr Fu Ziying.
The next agreement, which was for economic and technical co-operation for the establishment of a high school project, was signed by Foreign Affairs Minister Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi .
Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities Mr Giles Mutsekwa signed the agreement for the provision of borehole drilling projects, while Public Service Minister Mr Eliphas Mukonoweshuro signed the agreement on promotion of exchange and co-operation in human resources development field and friendship between Zimbabwe and China.
Other ministries that received support from China through agreements at the ceremony were Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development and the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.
Mr Wang said the current problems in Zimbabwe are for the political parties to sit down and dialogue without any interference by outsiders.
He expressed China’s support for Zimbabwe’s indigenisation policy and pledged his country’s commitment to further supporting Zimbabwe’s economic recovery efforts and increasing trade and economic co-operation between Zimbabwe and China.
In February, during his visit to Zimbabwe, Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Yang Jiechi hailed Zimbabwe as an “important partner” in Southern Africa. In a statement soon after his arrival, Minister Yang said China and Zimbabwe had deep relations.
“Zimbabwe is an important partner country in Southern Africa. It has a beautiful landscape and rich natural resources. Its people are industrious and talented and it holds broad prospect for development.
“China and Zimbabwe share a deep bond of traditional friendship,” he said.
Minister Yang added that China’s relations with Zimbabwe had stood the test of time, even under changing international circumstances.
“China sets store by its relations with Zimbabwe and regards Zimbabwe as a good friend, good brother and good partner. China is ready to work with Zimbabwe to further enhance political mutual trust, expand mutually beneficial co-operation and steadily elevate our friendship and co-operation,” Minister Yang said.
During his tour Minister Yang officially opened the Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centre at Gwebi College. The centre at Gwebi was built with Chinese financial and technical assistance and is one of many investments that the economic powerhouse has made in Zimbabwe over the years.
China has assisted Zimbabwe in a number of ways based on its billions-worth Africa assistance framework dubbed Forum on China-Africa Co-operation.
Zimbabwe is set to get about US$5 billion, some of which has already been dispensed.
It has assisted in construction of two schools in Mashonaland Central and Harare, and a hospital in Mahusekwa, Mashonaland Central.
Chinese investors intend to embark on the second phase of the renovations of the National Sports Stadium. The Chinese government has assisted in other sectors of the local economy, including in training of agricultural experts. They have pledged to provide funds for the construction of a new Parliament building.