From Victoria Ruzvidzo in Beijing, China
President Emmerson Mnangagwa will today meet his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, following his arrival in Beijing yesterday for a five-day State visit. This is President Mnangagwa’s first State visit outside Africa at the invitation of Mr Xi.
Today’s meeting will focus on political and economic developments as the two leaders consolidate their countries’ relationship.
President Mnangagwa, who is accompanied by First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, several Cabinet ministers and private sector excutives, will also meet officials of the Communist Party of China and the Chinese business community.
Government officials accompanying the President include his Special Advisor, Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa; Finance Minister Cde Patrick Chinamasa, Industry and Commerce Minister Cde Mike Bimha, Minister of Transport Cde Joram Gumbo and Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Cde Prisca Mupfumira.
Information, Communication and Technology Minister Cde Supa Mandiwanzira, Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Mr George Charamba also form part of the Presidential delegation.
Foreign Affairs Minister Cde Sibusiso Moyo, Energy and Power Development Minister Simon Khaya Moyo, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri were part of the advance party that received the President yesterday.
He was met at the Beijing Capital International Airport by Chinese Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Chen Xiaodong, the special envoy who visited Zimbabwe last month to invite the President to the Asian country.
Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Huang Ping was also at the airport to receive the President.
A number of economic deals across most sectors of the economy are expected to be clinched as the world’s second largest economy moves to help resuscitate Zimbabwe’s economy, weighed down by years of Western sanctions.
This is President Mnangagwa’s first State visit outside Africa. He has said after briefing Sadc Heads of State and Government on political and economic developments in Zimbabwe, he would visit Zimbabwe’s allies abroad.
He is scheduled to visit the provinces of Anhui and Zhejiang to meet with the political leadership and the business community from the two provinces.
China has stood with Zimbabwe in the face of villification by the West. It was China and Russia that stood in Zimbabwe’s corner when the United Nations Security Council wanted to place the country on sanctions a few years ago, at the instigation of the United States and Britain.
It is against this background of tried and tested friendship dating back to the liberation struggle that President Mnangagwa and Presidend Xi meet today.
In an interview with Chinese media on the eve of his trip, President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was grateful to China and its people for their unwavering support over the years.
“I am going to the People’s Republic of China at the invitation of President Xi Jinping and I will say thank you not only to the President but to the people of China for standing and supporting Zimbabwe during the hard times when the West imposed sanctions on us,” he said.
President Mnangagwa’s mantra that Zimbabwe is open for business is expected to gain currency during the visit. He will engage Chinese investors, indicating the various opportunities available in Zimbabwe.
Chinese firm Synohydro recently completed a $535 million expansion of Kariba South Power Station set to increase power generation by 300 megawatts, among other deals from the world’s second largest economy.
Zimbabwe exports tobacco and chrome, among other items while it imports agricutural and mining equipment, clothing, motor vehicles and other machinery from the Asian giant.