Interview: Chinese FM's visit seen as endorsement of China-Zimbabwe relations

08:15, February 10, 2011      

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The two-day visit to Zimbabwe by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi starting Thursday is an endorsement of relations between the Southern African country and China, local figures told Xinhua.

Former Zimbabwean ambassador to China Chris Mutsvangwa said in an interview on Tuesday that Yang's visit will also boost economic relations between the two countries.

"The visit of a foreign minister is a big banner announcement to say that relations between Zimbabwe and China are reaching for a new level," he said.

"This is a visit which will mark a new diplomatic high watermark in Zimbabwe's international relations because to get the visit of an important and emerging super-power like China with such economic clout is a big vote of confidence on the part of Zimbabweans who have been pummeled by sanctions" imposed by the West.

Yang, who will make the visit at the invitation of Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, is scheduled to meet President Robert Mugabe and other senior government officials.

Mutsvangwa said the Chinese veto at the United Nations in 2008 was "a landmark diplomatic decision where it basically saved Zimbabwe from punitive sanctions instigated by an irate and sulky former colonial power."

"So, now this visit will give an opportunity for Zimbabweans to

finally thank China for this act. But more important, cooperation in the economic field is beginning to gather pace because we have crossed the diplomatic and political travails which have been going on in the last 10 years and come out more united because the Chinese veto also enabled Zimbabweans to find accommodation among themselves and led to the GNU and GPA," Mutsvangwa said.

China, together with Russia, vetoed the British initiative for full-scale UN sanctions against Zimbabwe, saying the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) should be given a chance to resolve the country's political problems.

A SADC-driven initiative led to a Government of National Unity (GNU) following the signing of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) between Mugabe and then rivals Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.

"So there is more national unity now among Zimbabweans. It is an opportune moment for us to tighten our relations with China so that we can explore cooperation in the more rewarding material areas of agriculture, mining, tourism and industrialization.

"There is clearly a lot of scope for cooperation between Zimbabwe and China so that Zimbabwe can quicken its modernization pace taking advantage of the stellar achievements of the Chinese in the above areas," Mutsvangwa said.

He cited areas such as telecommunications, international logistics and the internet as being led by the Chinese.

China Tobacco has also been on the fore-front reviving tobacco farming in Zimbabwe for the past five years.

Mutsvangwa said shortages in the global cotton sector could spur better trade relations between the two countries and lead to more opportunities for Zimbabwean farmers.

Source: Xinhua
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