China still strong ally to ED and his government, says ambassador after criticism

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

CHINESE deputy ambassador to Zimbabwe, Zhao Baogang has denied claims that Beijing has lost confidence in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s leadership and further abandoned Zimbabwe as an ally.

He was speaking during a panel discussion at SAPES Trust, Harare on Thursday.

Mnangagwa muscled his way to the country’s most influential job in a military coup November last year amid claims China had a hand in President Robert Mugabe’s ouster.

What has followed are claims that the Asian economic giant has used its influence to take advantage of Zimbabwe, a country that has been desperate for partners after having been condemned and dumped by western powers which also imposed sanctions on the southern African country.

But in his comments, ambassador Baogang went to great lengths to deny his country was nolonger good friends with Zimbabwe.

“How can someone else draw the conclusion that the Chinese government does not have confidence in Mnangagwa’s government,” he said.

“If we don’t have confidence in him (Mnangagwa), how can we immediately, after his inauguration, send a special envoy here?

“And immediately after that we invited him to visit China to pay a State visit, very successful State visit and then the relations between the two countries are upgraded to comprehensive partnership of cooperation.”

The Chinese diplomat further said his country has also dispatched delegations to Zimbabwe to conduct some feasibility studies in some areas of interest.

Among some projects that his government has commissioned in Zimbabwe under the Mnangagwa led administration, Baogang said, was the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, Kariba South Power Station and the Hwange Thermal Power station.

“So all the facts speak volumes. But I can still see that some people in Zimbabwe select not to see that, not to see the facts,” he said.

“Tobacco industry; every year we import $500 million dollars’ worth of tobacco from Zimbabwe and even half of the tobacco is exported to China.

“How can you say that we have not done anything here?

“So I think people here needs to wash their faces and clear their eyes and see who is supporting Zimbabwe, who is putting sanctions against Zimbabwe.

“We have been doing everything here. We try our best but we still face some criticism and I am surprised that some intellectuals here don’t even criticise the countries that put sanctions against Zimbabwe. Why?”

The Chinese diplomat’s comments also follow continued claims that the Asian giant was plundering Zimbabwe’s natural resources with almost no tangible return to the economically troubled country.