‘Sweet nothings’ as Bob meets China leader

via ‘Sweet nothings’ as Bob meets China leader – New Zimbabwe 23/04/2015

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Indonesia Thursday but little detail emerged on progress made in implementing the “mega deals” the Zimbabwean leader claimed to have clinched in Beijing last year.

Mugabe travelled to China in August 2014, desperate for financial aid and investment to rescue a sinking economy just one year after he was re-elected on a promise to create two million new jobs in a country where unemployment is said to be more than 80 percent.

State media claimed that the veteran leader concluded nine “mega deals” which would see China financing multi-billion dollar infrastructural development programmes in roads, energy, railways, telecoms and agriculture.

But several months after the visit, the projects are yet to take off and government ministers speak little of the administration’s ambitious but unfunded ZimAsset economic blueprint.

International media did not share the official optimism in Harare following Mugabe’s visit with the UK-based Guardian newspaper quipping that Mugabe and his Chinese counterpart whispered sweet nothings about shared history, common foes and future cooperation as they met in Beijing.

And it appeared to be more of the same as the two leaders met in Indonesia where Mugabe, who has hardly been at home this year, is attending the Asia-Africa summit.

Foreign affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said the two leaders had “a very, very good meeting”.

“The discussion was wide-ranging and covered virtually all areas of co-operation,” he said.

According to China’s official Xinhua news agency, President Xi Jinping pledged support for Zimbabwe’s socioeconomic development.

China, Xi said, will continue to encourage its enterprises and financial institutions to explore mutually beneficial financial cooperation with their Zimbabwean counterparts so as to help fund Zimbabwe’s vital infrastructure construction.

Beijing also supports Chinese businesses participating in the construction of Zimbabwe’s special economic zones and beefing up bilateral cooperation in such areas as agriculture, manufacturing, education and medical care, Xi added.

Referring to Mugabe’s state visit to China in August last year, Xi recalled that the two leaders agreed then to turn their countries into good friends, good partners and good brothers that treat each other as equals, support each other and pursue win-win common development.

Noting that this year marks the 35th anniversary of the China-Zimbabwe diplomatic relations, Xi said he is willing to work with Mugabe to “lift the bilateral relationship to a new height”.

Mugabe, for his part, said Zimbabwe values the traditional friendship with China, and appreciates China’s precious support for Zimbabwe’s political independence and economic development.

Zimbabwe hopes to boost trade and economic cooperation with China to provide more impetus for its own economic and social development, Mugabe added.

Mugabe, currently chairman of the African Union thanked China for its huge contributions to the peace and development of the continent.