OBERT Mugabe embarks on an official visit to China later this week, his 13th trip to the Asian giant, according to Beijing’s ambassador to Zimbabwe Lin Lin.
Mugabe’s visit to China comes at a time Zimbabwe is in desperate need for a huge cash injection to rev up its sluggish economy.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has already made two trips to China this year as he pursues what he termed a “comprehensive” rescue package and will be back for the third time this week as part of Mugabe’s entourage.
The size of the rescue package Zimbabwe seeks remains unclear, but recent media reports suggest a $4 billion loan is being negotiated.
Details remain typically sketchy, but a senior Chinese embassy official told The Source earlier this year that Beijing would want minerals as security for any loan.
Chinamasa has, however, ruled this out, amid warnings by the World Bank against taking this option.
Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha also told The Source last week that he will visit China to seek investment opportunities for struggling Zimbabwean firms.
Ahead of Mugabe’s four-day official visit, Chinese ambassador Lin Lin wrote an op-ed in The Herald on Friday, saying the trip “will start a new chapter for our bilateral relations.”
Below are some of key figures from Lin Lin’s article:
13 – the number of visits Mugabe has made to China
3 – Chinese Vice Premiers have visited Zimbabwe in the past three years
$1,1 billion – trade volumes achieved in 2013, up from $562 million in 2010.
$688 million – Zimbabwe’s exports to China in 2013
$414 million – China’s exports to Zimbabwe in 2013
$602 million – Chinese investment in Zimbabwe, “the largest amount of Chinese investment among African countries.”
$1 billion – preferential, concessionary and commercial loans in recent years. These have funded projects including the $100 million National Defence College just outside Harare, $144 million Harare water project, medical equipment for hospitals, Victoria Falls airport expansion and the Kariba South hydropower expansion.
$100 million – Chinese official assistance to Zimbabwe – being grants and interest-free loans — over the past three years.
1,700 – Zimbabwean officials and technicians who have received financial support and training in China