George Chisoko Senior Assistant Editor—
President Mugabe yesterday held fruitful discussions with his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping in Beijing where the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to strong bilateral relations as they exchanged notes on mega deals worth billions of dollars signed nearly two years ago.The President was visiting China as part of his traditional annual leave which he combined with official business.
The two leaders discussed not only bilateral and global issues, but also took time to reflect on their relationship as leaders.
Yesterday’s meeting-cum-dinner lasted for close to an hour with President Mugabe and President XI placing emphasis on political and economic ties between Zimbabwe and China.
President XI said China was willing to support Zimbabwe’s development and would encourage enterprises to invest in Zimbabwe.
The Chinese leader said his country would widen cooperation with Zimbabwe in the areas of infrastructural development and agriculture.
In an interview yesterday from Beijing, Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to China Mr Paul Chikawa said he had been impressed by the amity in which the meeting was held.
“The two leaders had occasion to review the relationship between them, bilateral relations and international issues. Remember that this is the third time the two are meeting following their meeting in August 2014 and in December 2015. They also met in South Africa at the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation Summit and have always enjoyed excellent relations,” said Mr Chikawa.
“At yesterday’s meeting, President Mugabe and President XI also discussed political relations which have been excellent dating back to the time of the liberation struggle. They further discussed economic issues covering all sectors such as ICT, energy, agriculture, mining and infrastructural development,” said Mr Chikawa.
He said there would definitely be movement in the mega deals Zimbabwe and China signed as the two leaders had reaffirmed their commitment to their implementation and success.
“There has been commitment at the highest level and what now remains is for the relevant players to convert the commitment into concrete deliverables. It is no longer a question of whether the deals are likely to move but rather an issue of the deals definitely moving.’’
Zimbabwe and China signed deals worth $4 billion in December 2015 covering areas of energy, agriculture, mining and infrastructural development.
This has seen Chinese firms going into partnerships and joint ventures with local companies as part of efforts to turn around the economy.
The deals are at various stages of implementation and fit in well with the objectives of the country’s economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation.
Yesterday’s meeting between President Mugabe and President XI served to confirm the strong ties between the two nations. China has supported Zimbabwe’s economic recovery efforts since the country adopted the Look East policy at the turn of the millennium.
Since then, China has been the biggest buyer of Zimbabwean tobacco and a key investor in the country’s agricultural sector.
At the Focac Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, President Xi pledged support of $60 billion to several African nations, including Zimbabwe, in the coming years.