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Agreements help economy of Zimbabwe

ZHAO SHENGNAN
Updated: Aug 26,2014 9:07 AM     China Daily

President Xi Jinping and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe attend a welcoming ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing before their talks on Aug 25, 2014. Mugabe is on a five-day visit to China.[Photo/Xinhua]

President Mugabe turns to China to create jobs and attract investment

On his 13th trip to China on Monday, Robert Mugabe, the 90-year-old president of Zimbabwe, saw traditional ties become even closer when the two countries signed nine agreements that are expected to help revive the Zimbabwean economy.

The agreements, signed in the presence of President Xi Jinping and Mugabe, covered a wide spectrum, including economic and technical cooperation, food, financing, consular service and tourism.

Calling Mugabe a renowned African liberation leader and an “old friend” of the Chinese people, Xi said China would continue to help Zimbabwe in personnel training, financing and agricultural technologies.

President Xi Jinping and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe attend a welcoming ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Aug 25, 2014.[Photo by Wu Zhiyi/China Daily]

China is willing to participate in the construction of special economic zones and industrial parks in the African country, as well as boost cooperation in infrastructure and manufacturing and encourage Chinese to invest in Zimbabwe, Xi told Mugabe.

Mugabe said Zimbabwe eyes more cooperation with China as the country is committed to boosting its economy, upgrading agriculture, industry, mining and infrastructure, and uplifting people’s living conditions.

The former guerrilla, accompanied by a number of Cabinet ministers, started the five-day visit to China on Sunday amid Zimbabwe’s desperate need for a cash injection to revive its sluggish economy.

Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF party drafted a five-year blueprint to turn around the economy, but the plan’s implementation requires a $27 billion investment-far beyond the cash-strapped government’s financial capabilities.

He Wenping, director of the Institute of West Asian and African Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the latest visit by Mugabe is part of Zimbabwe’s “Look East” policy, which is intended to forge cooperation with global powerhouse Asia, including China.

Zimbabwe, beset by economic woes, hopes to create more jobs with increasing foreign investment, and the country’s stable domestic environment and rich resources present opportunities for Chinese investors, He said.

Zhang Ming, vice-minister of foreign affairs, expressed optimism on Monday about the two countries’ future cooperation, saying there are great opportunities because China is deepening its opening-up and Zimbabwe highly values its social and economic development.

Trade between the two nations more than doubled to $1.1 billion between 2010 and 2013.

China has emerged as Zimbabwe’s top source of direct foreign investment in recent years, with investment concentrated in the mining, construction, telecommunications and agriculture sectors. Zimbabwe has the world’s biggest reserves of platinum after neighboring South Africa.

President Xi Jinping and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe attend a welcoming ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Aug 25, 2014.[Photo by Wu Zhiyi/China Daily]

MUGABE A FREQUENT VISITOR TO CHINA

Robert Gabriel Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, visited China twice before the African country’s independence in 1980. He advocated Chairman Mao Zedong’s ideology, but didn’t meet him during the two visits.

From 1980 to 2011, he officially visited China nine times. He also met late leader Deng Xiaoping on three occasions.

In 2013 when Mugabe was elected president of Zimbabwe for the sixth time, he said he was committed to the further development of China and Zimbabwe’s cooperative relationship.

He said he hoped that Zimbabwe will strengthen trade ties with China in agriculture, mineral industry and infrastructure.

“In the past, China has always been firmly supportive of Zimbabwe, and we consider China a sincere friend,” he said.

In recent years, economic cooperation between China and Zimbabwe has developed rapidly. The value of trade between the two countries reached 1 billion yuan ($160 million) for the first time last year. China is currently the largest investor in Zimbabwe.

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