Chinese Embassy dismisses newspaper report

Recently The Standard newspaper published a number of articles that attacked and smeared the Chinese Embassy and companies.

These essay-like articles repeatedly accused Chinese companies in Zimbabwe of polluting the environment, looting resources, abusing workers and bribing officials.

Some of them even attempted to deprive the Chinese Embassy of its right to speak, and stigmatised the Chinese Embassy’s actions to defend the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and publish the truth as “abuse the public media”, “hate speech, conspiracies, name calling, false information and all sorts of other unpleasant things”. This is a typical anti-democratic behaviour of public opinion bullying and scoundrelism.

There is evidence that these articles are products of foreign funding and execution by some local NGOs.

Among them, the Information for Development Trust (IDT) claims to be an independent journalism centre.

However, it is actually a puppet sponsored and manipulated by the US Embassy to attack Chinese investment in Zimbabwe. Funded by the US Embassy in Zimbabwe, which it publicly acknowledges, IDT has long fabricated false information and published anti-China news, whose despicable operations include instigating a few journalists at a marked price to make up stories attacking Chinese government and companies.

Following the exposure of this sponsored mission, the centre and its gang of hired guns have earned themselves the moniker, ‘Mr.1k’, who have engaged in the despicable deal in which each fabricated article attacking the Chinese government or a Chinese company is promised $1,000 paid by a certain country’s embassy since last year.

In May 2022, the Standard published a story that the head of IDT claimed to have been prepared by a so-called independent journalist, while having the footnote clearly stating that, “This investigation was supported by the US Embassy’s Public Diplomacy Section”. Apart from this being a smoking gun, perhaps it was because the centre was not confident in its content and had to acknowledge its master to boost its morale.

The above actions are with obvious political motivations.

The first is to smear China-Zimbabwe friendship, undermine China-Zimbabwe cooperation, hinder potential Chinese investors, deprive Zimbabwe’s opportunities of development and cripple Zimbabwe’s capability to resist illegal sanctions imposed by the  western countries.

The second is to attack the policy of Zimbabwean government, mislead the public by spreading false information, and arouse public grievances in order to achieve their ulterior political agenda. Zimbabwean people need to be on high alert on their true face and malicious intention.

We have taken note that, as an NGO, IDT, in particular, smears and attacks the Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe based on subjective conjecture without any factual evidence, which is a serious offense to the Chinese government and Chinese people, and also exposes the organization’s ridiculous ignorance and arrogance.

The Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe cooperates with any local media in Zimbabwe, comprehensively and objectively introduces the achievements of China-Zimbabwe cooperation, and defends the legitimate rights and interests and of Chinese companies in Zimbabwe.

These are the statutory duties and responsibilities of the Embassy. Does the so-called freedom of speech mean licensing oneself to carry out slander, rumours and smearing, while not allowing the victims to express their opinions? Given the 40-plus years of friendship between China and Zimbabwe, the fruitful results of China-Zimbabwe friendly cooperation and the context of the in-depth development of China-Zimbabwe comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation, such efforts are nothing more than a clownish joke.

For more than 20 years after the choking illegal sanctions imposed by the western countries, Zimbabwe has not been able to obtain loans from international financial institutions, and its foreign trade and cross-border settlements have been severely hindered. The country’s development has suffered heavy losses, and people’s lives have fallen into distress.

China has always stood by Zimbabwe’s Government and its people. China is one of a few countries that have provided a great amount of aid to Zimbabwe and vigorously promoted bilateral economic and trade cooperation, which contribute to Zimbabwe’s economic and social development, and enhance the capability and confidence of the Zimbabwean government and people to break through the illegal sanctions.

China has always strongly called for the lifting of all illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe, and exercised its veto at the United Nations Security Council against the resolution on more sanctions against Zimbabwe drafted by the US in 2008.

For some time, individual newspapers’ reports on Chinese companies have sometimes directly quoted the rumours from “Mr.1k” and NGOs such as IDT, which are full of prejudice and in serious deviation from the professional ethics and norms of journalism.

They are afraid of the truth, never dare to conduct a comprehensive and objective investigation, never dare to give Chinese companies or parties concerned a chance to clarify, and never dare to conduct interviews and verification with the related Zimbabwean government departments. What are they avoiding and hiding? How can such so-called investigations with presumption of guilt be fair, comprehensive and objective?

Those willing to act as the puppets of Western anti-China forces and oppose China at every turn, fabricating fake news and inciting anti-China sentiment will only end up hurting their own interests and seriously tarnishing the reputation of the Zimbabwean media and journalists.

The Chinese Government has always required Chinese overseas companies to abide by local laws and regulations, drive local economic development, fulfil their social obligations and responsibilities and establish good relationships with local communities.

The overwhelming majority of Chinese companies in Zimbabwe have done a good job: they are bringing financial resources, local jobs, technology, skills, tax revenues and foreign exchanges to the nation, and establishing good relations with local people.

In line with Zimbabwe’s aspirational targets such as achieving US$12 billion in Mining sector by 2023 and Vision 2030 of Achieving an Upper Middle Income Economy by 2030, Chinese companies have employed more than 100 000 local people throughout different economic sectors and invested billions of US dollars to the nation. A vast number of examples such as the Netone Phase 111 Project, the Hwange Power Station Expansion Project, the construction of Kariba South Power Station, the development in mineral resource, the cultivation and export of tobacco, the demonstration of agricultural cooperation and the building of roads, schools and hospitals have proven Chinese companies’ enormous contribution to the development of Zimbabwe and the well-being of its citizens.

We do not deny that there are certain problems within a handful of Chinese companies.

No country can claim to have attained perfection on their companies overseas.

We firmly support the Government of Zimbabwe in developing a robust legal and regulatory framework to ensure lawful practices by all foreign investors in Zimbabwe. We have proposed multiple times for the Government of Zimbabwe to establish an effective monitoring mechanism to ensure better compliance.

However, some ill-motivated forces exaggerate the wrong-doings of few Chinese companies and blow out of proportion the problems to indict the entire Chinese community in Zimbabwe.

Further, they have launched groundless attacks against friendly cooperation between China and Zimbabwe, and even incited sentiments to exclude Chinese. Such acts intended to undermine China-Zimbabwe cooperation and hinder potential Chinese investors will make illegal sanctions imposed by the West more effective, force Zimbabwe to be manipulated by the US and other western countries and even feed the ulterior political purpose of western countries.

We call upon Zimbabwean people to stay vigilant and be aware of the nature of such actions. Who are the real friends of Zimbabwe? And who are the conspirator betraying and suppressing Zimbabwe? The answer is crystal clear and cannot be decided or changed by sponsored disinformation articles.

Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe is willing to cooperate with all the media upholding an objective and fair position, and welcomes fact-based constructive criticisms from the media which can help Chinese companies continue to improve.

The Embassy will never shelter any Chinese companies that break the laws and regulations of Zimbabwe.

However, the Embassy will never endure political manipulation and unwarranted smearing which incites anti-China sentiment, and will take strong counter-measures in response to safeguard China’s national image, the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and the friendly relations between China and Zimbabwe.

We are willing to actively interact with all parties in Zimbabwe to foster an enabling atmosphere of public opinion on foreign investment in Zimbabwe.

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