China, Zimbabwe good partners, good friends, good brothers
As the Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, I have always been touched by the deep bond and comradeship between China and Zimbabwe. I have always been asked by Zimbabwean friends, “Why would China like to support Zimbabwe even though the two countries are geographically far away from each other?”
What exactly is China-Zimbabwe cooperation and how does China view the cooperation between Zimbabwe and other countries? I would like to share with you my most honest opinion about the subject matter.
China and Zimbabwe have always been partners with a shared future in weal and woe, that’s why China consistently supports Zimbabwe. China and Zimbabwe have both suffered from imperialism and colonialism for a long time; both arduously struggled for independence, liberation and prosperity of our own countries. Shared experiences, historic mission and common ideals brought us close together. China and Zimbabwe are good friends, good partners and good brothers with common interests and shared future.
In the fight for national liberation and independence, China and Zimbabwe supported each other and expanded mutual political trust. In pursuing economic development and national rejuvenation, both sides have been helping the other by increasing the scope of cooperation. In fighting against hegemonism, power politics, unilateralism and safeguarding international equality and justice, the two countries have cooperated closely and continued their tireless efforts to recalibrate the international order according to a fairer and more reasonable set of standards.
As sovereign countries, China and Zimbabwe are entitled to explore development paths suited to their own national conditions. Proved repeatedly by history and reality, any country’s development must rely on a path suited to its national conditions, a policy of independence and firmly safeguard its national sovereignty, security and development interests. Disregarding these, development will become empty promises. If there is no independence, a country is doomed to become a puppet and vassal of others.
China firmly supports Zimbabwe in pursuing an independent development path and will work with the international community to oppose interference in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs and illegal sanctions. China will provide more support and assistance for Zimbabwe’s development.
Upholding the principles of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith, China has long contributed to the socio-economic development of Zimbabwe and the livelihood of its people with irrefutable concrete actions.
On intergovernmental cooperation, China has helped Zimbabwe to enhance infrastructure construction and provided assistance in areas that meet urgent need of Zimbabwe’s development and its people by grants, concessional loans and policy support. The well-known National Sports Stadium, New Parliament Building, National Pharmaceutical warehouse, 1 000 borehole drilling project by China Aid, 2 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, High Performance Computing Centre and Chinese medical team were gratuitously aided by China.
The NetOne Phase III, Kariba South Power Station expansion project, Hwange Power Station expansion project for Unit 7 and8, Zimbabwe Victoria Falls International Airport upgrading project and expansion of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport are being supported by China’s concessional loans. The protocol of phytosanitary requirements for export of Zimbabwean fresh citrus to China signed last year is one of the policy supports to increase export of Zimbabwe’s agricultural products to China.
Most importantly, China never attaches any political strings to assistance or makes wanton comments on Zimbabwe’s internal affairs. We have never imposed coercive economic measures against Zimbabwe or forced Zimbabwe to exchange resources for assistance. We have never exported ideology. We consistently respect the social system and development path of Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe, there are some unwarranted conspiracy theories against China-Africa cooperation, the most absurd one being the so-called “Chinese debt trap”.
Following their political independence, African countries have dedicated to national development and economic revitalisation. In this progress, a shortage of funds for development and the need for external financing are problems that African countries have to face.
Therefore, Africa’s debt situation is in nature an issue of development, so is Zimbabwe’s debt situation. The solution lies in ensuring the effective use of funds and loans and enhancing its capability to achieve self-driven development. However, instead of truly helping Africa to advance economic growth, generate more tax revenues, increase exports and forex for improved balance of payments, some financing projects focus on non-manufacturing sectors, and even come with political strings attached such as political reforms in receiving countries. Such financing can easily end up as bad loans that are unpayable. This is the REAL “dept trap”.
Based on such logic, China-Zimbabwe cooperation mainly focuses on important infrastructural developments such as power stations, airports and communication facilities to meet the real and urgent need of Zimbabwe and enables its realization of economic modernisation. Every project is in the open without anything to hide, the funds are traceable, the benefits are tangible. This is the best definition of transparency and it showcases the sustainability.
Chinese private investments are becoming the vital forces to promote Zimbabwe’s economic development. China encourages more well-established and capable Chinese companies to invest in Zimbabwe. We are glad to see that construction of Dinson Iron and Steel Company invested by Tsingshan is well on track.
Large enterprises such as Huayou Cobalt and Sinomine invested in local lithium mines and revitalises the resources that were long idled by western companies. These projects bring considerable investments, forex earnings, tax revenues, advanced technology, thousands of job opportunities and help Zimbabwe to enhance competitiveness in the international market.
China has consistently required Chinese enterprises to abide by Zimbabwean laws and policies, protect the environment, respect labour rights and accept the supervision of the Zimbabwean authority and public scrutiny.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Embassy will safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises in accordance with the law. China calls on and supports the Zimbabwean Government to continuously refine the regulatory framework so as to enhance the supervision and monitoring to all foreign investments, protect their legitimate rights and create a more favourable investment climate.
Africa belongs to the African people. The African people are wise enough and fully capable of deciding whom they want as their cooperation partners. Supporting Africa’s development is the common responsibility of the international community. We welcome more friendly cooperation and greater contribution towards Zimbabwe from other countries and international organizations. There should be no exclusive competition or “zero-sum” game in benefiting Zimbabwe’s development. If there is any competition, China would like to join the competition that which contributes more to the economic-social development and people’s living of Zimbabwe.
At the same time, we firmly oppose any act that meddles in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs and tramples on Zimbabwe’s sovereignty in the name of “assistance” and “cooperation”. We also explicitly express the opposition of forcing Zimbabwe to accept unequal cooperation by sanctions or coercive measures.
Looking into the coming years, the handover of New Parliament Building, National Pharmaceutical Warehouse and 500 boreholes will soon be witnessed. We are also seeing good progress in the Hwange thermal power station expansion and NetOne Phase III project. Another 10 million doses of China-aid Covid-19 vaccines will arrive in Zimbabwe this year.
We are going to welcome another team of Chinese Agricultural Experts to Zimbabwe and continue to build demonstration villages.
More China-aided projects including another 300 boreholes drilling in the areas affected by the Cyclone Idai, the development of China-Zimbabwe Juncao Technology Cooperation Project, High Performance Computing Centre, Anti-Narcotics Laboratory, will be commissioned. Zimbabwean citrus will appear in Chinese market. Bilateral cooperation in the scope of clean energy and e-commerce will be discussed. More Zimbabwean outstanding students will go to study in China. Zimbabwe job fair organized by Chinese firms will generate more job opportunities and more excellent Chinese firms will come to invest.
A Chinese proverb says that, “Just as distance tests a horse’s strength, time will reveal a person’s sincerity.” On the path of independent development, China remains Zimbabwe’s true and trustworthy friend forever!