via Chinese Premier ducks Zim – DailyNews Live by Fungi Kwaramba 7 MAY 2014
Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang is on an African safari, strengthening ties with resource-rich nations but will not come to Zimbabwe.
During his African tour, his first since he became the premier of the global powerhouse last year, Keqiang will visit Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Angola.
“I will feel the deep friendship based on solidarity and mutual assistance between the Chinese and African peoples, see for myself Africa’s dynamic economic and social development, and listen to the people’s description of their expectation for good life in the future,” Keqiang said ahead of the visit.
Keqiang is not the first top Chinese official to come to Africa and omit Zimbabwe from his diary.
Ten days after being appointed the leader of China in March last year, Xi Jinping visited Tanzania, South Africa and Congo Brazzaville but again did not come to Zimbabwe.
Hu Jintao, Jinping’s predecessor had in 2007 visited Cameroon, Liberia, Sudan, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique and Seychelles, again avoiding Zimbabwe.
Dewa Mavhinga, chairperson for Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, said the Chinese were Zimbabwe’s friends on paper.
“That the Chinese premier has ignored Zimbabwe in his Africa visit confirms more categorically that Zanu PF’s claim to have close ties with China is false.
“It is a figment of a fertile imagination as already indicated previously when China failed to open lines of credit to Zimbabwe when Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa recently extended a begging bowl to China as part of the ill-fated so-called ‘Look East Policy’,” he said.
“It does not take a rocket scientist to see that, in terms of business interests, when Zimbabwe looks east to China, in turn, China looks west. A key lesson to learn from China is that it will not let political rhetoric replace business interests.”
Alex Magaisa, a former advisor to Morgan Tsvangirai, pointed to the irony that comes from Zimbabwe’s grand posturing on its alliance with China, when the leaders of the Asian nation have never visited the country.
“Given the manner in which our leadership sing merrily about China, one would expect these friends to also pay us a courtesy call,” Magaisa said.
According to statistics, bilateral trade between China and Zimbabwe reached $1,102 billion in 2013, up by 8,53 percent compared to the previous year, in which Zimbabwean exports were worth $688 million and imports were $414 million.
Tired of the governance benchmarks and political reform strings attached to Western aid and investment, countries like Zimbabwe are finding it easier to deal with China, whose leaders have a policy of “non-interference” in domestic matters.
But cynical analysts and labourers see nothing mutually beneficial in China and Zimbabwe trade.
Workers say the Chinese are abusive, trade unionists and commentators think they are treated with kid gloves, while supporters of President Robert Mugabe’s ‘‘Look East policy’’ say Zimbabwe should actually be doing more to lure Chinese investors.
Brighton Musonza, a political commentator, said Zimbabwe is not on the radar of China’s choice trade partners.
“This is the second time,” Musonza said.
“Our relations are not premised on economic interests but it’s us clinging on them and there is no reason to visit a country like Zimbabwe. Their economic interests in the region are entrusted to South Africa.”
Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe Lin Lin said: “As Zimbabwe’s all-weather friend, China is more than willing to support your efforts in infrastructural building.
“Children are our future and we believe that providing children with proper education is the best way to ensure a nation’s sustainable development,” he said after a recent donation of generators to 12 schools.
Chris Mutsvangwa, the deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, told a conference dubbed, “Zimbabwe going forward — Consolidating the Democratisation process and Reinforcing Re-engagement with the Global Community” in Harare on Monday that Zimbabwe “cannot afford to ignore the potential offered by the Asian tigers”.
He said serious businesses should deal with the Chinese.