The Sunday News
Kuda Bwititi, Harare Bureau
CHINA has invited Government to talks on how the latter could benefit from Beijing’s ambitious US$1 trillion initiative — the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) — that puts Harare in line for massive trade spin-offs.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa is expected to travel to Beijing for talks in the next few weeks after Zimbabwe was identified as one of the partners under the BRI project, which seeks to expand Beijing’s trade links with the rest of the world.
The BRI, which aims to re-create the ancient Silk Road trade routes, is China’s masterplan for trade with the rest of the globe.
In an interview with our Harare Bureau on the sidelines of the Sichuan Food Festival held at the Chinese Embassy in Harare, China’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Guo Shaochun said: “Several of your senior Government officials have been invited to China to start talks for the BRI in the next few weeks. One of the officials is the Minister of Information. This is going to support the co-operation between China and Zimbabwe in a big way. It is going to build greater co-operation and grow relations between Zimbabwe and China. We want Zimbabwe to continue developing because it is one of our important friends.”
Further, in his speech at the food festival, Ambassador Shaochun said the elevation of relations between Zimbabwe and China from “all-weather friends” to comprehensive strategic partnership” had provided scope for greater bilateral co-operation between the two countries.
“China and Zimbabwe enjoy great friendship, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has visited China twice and reached an agreement with his counterpart President Xi Jinping to promote bilateral relationships to comprehensive strategic partnership for co-operation. We are committed to deepening bilateral co-operation under Focac (Forum for China Africa Co-operation) and the Belt and Road Initiative,” he said.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration, Ambassador Shaochun said, was likely to unlock “more tangible benefits” for both Harare and Beijing.
“We are confident that under the leadership of His Excellency, Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe will be able to attain its vision of building itself into an upper middle-income economy. We believe that with our joint efforts China and Zimbabwe relations will grow from strength to strength and bring more tangible benefits for the people from our two countries.”
Speaking at the same festival, Minister Mutsvangwa said Zimbabwe appreciates that President Xi Jinping “takes personal interest in Zimbabwe”.
She underscored the various infrastructure projects being developed through capital from China, which show the dynamic and rewarding bilateral relationship. China was a “game-changer” for Zimbabwe’s economic trajectory, she said. “I am very confident that the sound and close bilateral talks will play a game-changer role in Zimbabwe and its quest for Vision 2030 and middle-income status. We are already taking leaf books from Beijing’s remarkable experience in marshalling domestic direct investment and attracting foreign direct investment.”
While the BRI – dubbed “the biggest project of the 21st century” – presents a new and exciting chapter for relations between the two countries, economic projects that have been implemented with the help from China are already bearing fruit.
Zimbabwe and China have signed more than a dozen landmark projects. The deals are mainly under the framework of Focac, where the Oriental State has provided US$60 billion for African countries. Zimbabwe has so far tapped an estimated US$3 billion from the fund. Most of the projects are at various stages of implementation.