By Mduduzi Mathuthu Bulawayo Bureau, the Herald. Photo: the Herald
CHINESE President Xi Jinping is due in Harare early next month on an historic state visit that will elevate political and economic ties between the two countries.
President Mugabe, speaking to reporters in Turkey where he and President Xi attended the G20 Summit, said he looked forward to his Chinese counterpart’s visit with “great interest”. It would only be the second time that a Chinese President has visited Zimbabwe following the visit of Mr Jiang Zemin in 1996.
“We actually await the visit with very great interest, and when he visits us we shall be discussing some of the projects and programmes we would want China to assist us in undertaking,” President Mugabe said, according to the state-run China Radio International.
He added: “It’s more than the visit of the Chinese head of state that is very important to us. We’ll discuss programmes of cooperation.” Xi Jinping will embark on the two-day state visit on a visit that President Mugabe sees as of great significance to Zimbabwe which has been gravitating towards China, seeking economic lifelines to jump-start its economy ravaged by debilitating economic sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States in retaliation for the Zanu-PF Government’s repossession of land from white commercial farmers to resettle landless Zimbabweans.
From Zimbabwe, the two leaders will attend the sixth meeting of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum in South Africa. President Mugabe made a State visit to China last year where the two countries signed a number of agreements that will see the Asian giant providing financial and technical assistance in infrastructure development in the areas transport, agriculture, water, tourism and power generation among others.
Several Chinese delegations have since visited Zimbabwe to expedite the implementation of the deals, most of them underwritten by Chinese banks and investors. China, alongside Russia, have announced multi-billion dollar investments in Zimbabwe which when complete will lessen the impact of Western estrangement.
China has also proved to be a key political ally by checking the bullying of Zimbabwe by Western countries at international forums, including the United Nations. In July 2008, a push by the United States and Britain to impose punitive sanctions on Zimbabwe through a UN Security Council resolution which Harare says would have been a precursor to illegal military intervention to effect “regime change” floundered after China and Russia vetoed the resolution.
The US, which used a similar UN resolution on Iraq to wage an illegal war that toppled President Saddam Hussein, had claimed Zimbabwe was a “threat to peace and security in the region”.