Lloyd Gumbo in BEIJING, China
President Mugabe yesterday met his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing at a colourful ceremony that was attended by Zimbabwean and Chinese ministers and senior officials.
The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces together with his host, inspected a guard of honour mounted by China’s Land Force, Air Force and Sea Force.
They received a 21 gun salute as they were inspecting the guard of honour while the band provided entertainment.
Children were also holding flowers and miniature flags of both countries to welcome the two leaders.
The two leaders together with their ministers and senior officials then went into a closed-door meeting that lasted for hours.
In his remarks after the closed door meeting, President Xi praised President Mugabe for the role he played during and after the liberation struggle.
“Your Excellency is a renowned leader of the African national liberation movement,” he said.
“The main founder of the Republic of Zimbabwe and important promoter of African integration. Your Excellency enjoys high prestige in Africa, you are also an old friend of the Chinese people whom we respect very much.
“The Chinese people value friendship and will never forget those good friends and good brothers who show mutual understanding and support.”
He said the friendship between China and Zimbabwe was founded on same principles and values since both countries fought imperialism and colonialism.
President Xi said Zimbabwe and China showed mutual respect for each other adding that they must endeavour to promote political mutual trust.
“At present both China and Zimbabwe are at an important phase in our development endeavour and there are new opportunities facing China-Zimbabwe friendship and co-operation and I am sure Your Excellency’s visit this time will mark a new starting for our relationship.
“I stand ready to work with you, Your Excellency to comprehensively deepen our bilateral relationship and make sure the relationship will create benefits for people in both countries,” he said.
In his response, President Mugabe said he was grateful for the invitation by the Chinese Government, adding that his Government was committed to the relationship between Harare and Beijing.
“I want to thank you for what you have just said and assure you that we are prepared on our part to continue our historical relations and even build on them as we develop our economies and Zimbabwe will naturally as before being a smaller country be the beneficiary of this relationship and so I want to assure you of our reciprocal undertaking that we will do our best to reciprocate your friendship,” said President Mugabe.
Earlier in the day, President Mugabe toured one of the leading computer software and hardware manufacturer Inspur Group, that also has interests in Zimbabwe.
The firm donated 200 laptops to the President’s Office.
President Mugabe is in China on a week-long State visit.