China’s foreign minister Wang Yi has pledged to strengthen cooperation with Zimbabwe despite a hitch in bilateral ties last year.
The two countries were at loggerheads after Zimbabwe’s government said it had only received $3.6 million in aid from Beijing in 2019 – 40 times lower than the figure claimed by China.
Yi met his Zimbabwean counterpart Sibusiso Moyo on Sunday during the final leg of an Africa tour that also took him to Egypt, Djibouti, Eritrea and Burundi.
He did not mention financial assistance, but hailed China and Zimbabwe’s “win-win cooperation in infrastructure, agriculture, and mining” and vowed to explore new areas of cooperation.
China’s relationship with Zimbabwe dates back to the liberation struggle of the 1970s, when Beijing supported some of the top guerrilla leaders.
After the end of white-minority rule in 1980, China was one of the first countries to establish a diplomatic mission in the capital Harare.
China's Influence During The Mugabe Era
Under former president Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe adopted a “Look East” policy after a fallout with the US and the EU over rights abuses and controversial land reforms.
Beijing remained one of Mugabe’s most powerful allies and a major trade partner, even as the West shunned him over human rights violations.
Zimbabwe’s opposition parties are not excited with this renewed friendship. China’s influence and accused the government of giving away minerals and other natural resources in exchange for aid.
Chinese companies are alleged to abuse and underpay local workers.
Zimbabwe’s economy has been reduced to tatters by decades of mismanagement under Mugabe, who died of cancer in September last year.
Years of rampant hyperinflation have rendered life un-affordable for most and basic goods such as bread and fuel are hard to come by.