- Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang pledges Beijing’s support for Zimbabwe to oppose ‘external interference and sanctions’
- The southern African country is under US sanctions over controversial land reforms
China has promised to help Zimbabwe oppose “external interference and sanctions” while building its own path to development, as the southern African country gears up for a general election this summer.
In a meeting with his visiting Zimbabwean counterpart Frederick Shava in Beijing on Monday, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang pledged to share more state governance experience with Harare, with which Beijing has maintained friendly relations for more than 40 years.
“China will, as always, firmly support Zimbabwe in opposing external interference and sanctions, and in taking a development path suited to its national conditions,” Chinese foreign ministry quoted Qin as saying.
He added that the two nations were “good friends and partners that trust and support each other”.
The landlocked country has been sanctioned by the United States and the European Union since the early 2000s, with some restrictions removed over the years.
The sanctions, which ban Zimbabwean companies and individuals from trading with Western entities, were claimed by the US as a way to help Zimbabwe advance economically and democratically.
When some entities were removed from the sanctions list in December, the US State Department said it was “imperative to ensure Zimbabweans have the opportunity to vote [in] elections that are free from violence, repression and electoral manipulation”.
The next general elections are expected to be held in July or August, when incumbent president Emmerson Mnangagwa, who leads the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, will face Nelson Chamisa, leader of the newer Citizens Coalition for Change.
Washington’s Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA), first implemented in 2001, was passed in response to Harare’s land reform efforts to reclaim and redistribute land stolen by white colonists.
The process has been violent at times, with supporters claiming it has empowered the landless and formerly colonised people, while critics have argued the reforms have left the country more impoverished.
ZIDERA required Harare to stop the land seizures. The Zimbabwe government has since compensated former farmers through several arrangements, including an agreement signed in 2020 to pay a total of US$3.5 billion for the losses they incurred.
According to the Chinese embassy in Zimbabwe, bilateral trade reached a record high of US$2.43 billion in 2022 – a 29.2 per cent year-on-year increase. China’s main imports from Zimbabwe were tobacco leaf, processed tobacco, ferroalloys and chromium ore. China remains the country’s largest foreign investor.
“China will tap the potential of cooperation with Zimbabwe in fields such as investment, trade, energy and mineral resources, clean energy and human resources development, and will continue to encourage Chinese enterprises to invest in Zimbabwe,” Qin said.
China has built a new US$200 million, six-storey parliament building in Mount Hampden, a city neighbouring Harare. The gift from Beijing was a “testimony of the strategic and comprehensive partnership and excellent fraternal relations” between the two nations, according to Mnangagwa.
The Chinese foreign ministry also said Shava expressed Zimbabwe’s willingness to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation with China in various fields, strengthen cooperation under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, and push the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries to a new level. — scmp.com