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21 Mar 2011 16:19
Zimbabwe and China on Monday signed a raft of agreements worth $585-million aimed at reviving the southern African country’s health, mining and agriculture sectors.
“We acknowledge the efforts by the China Development Bank to engage government in supporting Zimbabwe’s most critical areas of energy, mining, transport, agriculture, manufacturing and tourism,” said Zimbabwean Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
“These areas would assist in the growth of our economy.”
The signing ceremony was also attended by Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Qishan, who is in Zimbabwe on an official visit.
Wang pledged China’s support for Zimbabwe’s fledgling economic recovery since the formation of a power-sharing government between long-time President Robert Mugabe and former opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
He promised to lobby for the lifting of Western sanctions on Mugabe and his inner circle.
“China will continue to support and grow your economy. China will continue to impress on countries that have imposed sanctions to lift them at early date,” he said.
He also said China supported Zimbabwe’s equity law, which seeks to give locals a majority stake in foreign-owned companies, but asked for protection for Chinese firms.
“We understand and appreciate the indigenisation policy, but we ask you to protect the legitimate rights of Chinese businesses,” he said.
Zimbabwe and China have political ties dating back to before Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, when Beijing provided arms and training to guerrillas fighting British colonial rule.
China has also been pivotal in protecting Zimbabwe at the United Nations (UN).
In 2008, China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution seeking sanctions against Harare.—AFP
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