Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe, Huang Ping says while the Asian economic giant will not interfere in Zimbabwe’s affairs, it views stability as key to efforts to resuscitate the economy.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Huang was speaking ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Zimbabwe on Tuesday. He said China was committed to implementing the “mega-deals” it signed with President Robert Mugabe’s government last year.
In response to questions on whether China was concerned with the lack of a clear succession plan and the turmoil in the ruling Zanu PF, the envoy said his country preferred a policy of non-interference.
“China never interferes with the domestic affairs of any other country, and respects the choices of the Zimbabwean people in deciding the fate of their own country,” he said.
“China hopes that Zimbabwe could maintain peace and stability in its endeavours of economic recovery and development.”
Zanu PF is stuck in bitter succession wars with factionalism gnawing at the former liberation movement.
Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa is perceived as China’s preferred candidate to succeed Mugabe given his military background and close history with the Asian economic power.
Western countries fed up with Mugabe have openly called for change of guard at the top, but wily Mugabe has outmanoeuvred them every time.
Huang said while Zimbabwe was not yet the biggest destination of Chinese investments on the continent, the Asian country, which has grown to be the second largest economy in the world, had become Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner in the last few years.
“According to the statistics from the Chinese side, in 2013, Chinese investment in Zimbabwe was $602 million, surpassing its investment in any other African country,” he said.
Zimbabwean Industry minister Mike Bimha said early this week that in 2014, Chinese investment in Zimbabwe was $238,9 million, making China the largest source of investment in Zimbabwe,” Ping said.
He said overall Chinese investment in Zimbabwe “may not be as much” as in other African countries, “however, this also means that there is potential for our investment cooperation”.
“Recent years have seen the fast growth of bilateral trade between China and Zimbabwe. China has become one of the major trade partners of Zimbabwe. From 2010 to 2014, the average annual growth rate of bilateral trade was 22%.
“According to statistics from the Chinese side, bilateral trade reached a record high of $1,24 billion in 2014, more than doubling that of 2010. The trade is in Zimbabwe’s favour as China’s imports from Zimbabwe are $840 million, while exports to Zimbabwe are $400 million. Tobacco and cotton account for 71% of China’s imports from Zimbabwe, while machinery and high-tech products account for 77% of Zimbabwe’s imports from China,” the envoy said.
Xi’s visit will be the first by a sitting Chinese head of State in 20 years and only the second in 35 years. The last was by Jiang Zemin in 1995.