The Chinese Ambassador To Zimbabwe Guo Shaochun has penned the following piece detailing how Zimbabwe and China have enjoyed a 40-year diplomatic relationship and detailed some of the donations China has made to Zimbabwe over the years:
On April 18 2020, China and Zimbabwe celebrated 40 years of diplomatic ties. This is a momentous occasion to take stock and plan for the future. As I look back on all the historic things we have been able to do together, one question keeps popping up.
What is the essence of this harmonious relationship? As we heed Zimbabwe’s lockdown and mobilise resources from all sources to support our brothers in fighting Covid-19, I realise it is the solidarity, especially in difficult times, that has seen us through 40 years of ups and downs.
In the 1960s, when Zimbabwe decided the chains of colonialism must be smashed, China came with support. Back then, China herself had just emerged from a prolonged war against imperialist rule. Circumstances were tough. But China knew she must join Zimbabwe’s fight. We gave what little we had and trained a large number of freedom fighters and military officials for Zimbabwe.
One of them is Comrade Mnangagwa, current President of Zimbabwe, who has shared his fond memories of those days in China on several occasions. Chinese President Xi Jinping is fully committed to China-Zimbabwe traditional friendship, which, according to him, “was forged in the glorious war against imperialism, colonialism and hegemony”.
When Zimbabwe was threatened with the possibility of unjust sanctions in 2008, China resorted to its rarely used veto power in the UN Security Council to stood up for Zimbabwe.
On Sadc’s anti-sanctions day last year, when southern African nations rallied for Zimbabwe’s cause, China’s voice could also be heard clearly thousands of miles away, “The long-term unilateral sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe are not based on international law, and they lack legitimacy and legality.
“We call on relevant countries and organisations to remove sanctions on Zimbabwe as soon as possible. China stands ready to help Zimbabwe safeguard its independence and sovereignty.”
On its part, Zimbabwe resolutely upholds the one-China policy and stands with China on issues related to China’s core interests and major concerns. The two nations work hand in hand to increase the representation of developing countries in international organisations and safeguard the shared interests of the developing countries.
In the aftermath of cyclone Idai, Chinese President Xi immediately sent a message of support and directed the Chinese government to donate US$800 000 in cash for immediate disaster relief. It was then followed by a Chinese government initiative to launch a series of follow-up projects in disaster relief efforts.
In the past two years, China has donated 12 173 and 10 165 tonnes of rice to Zimbabwe through bilateral channels. The aid of US$10 million worth of food is being implemented by WFP to support Zimbabweans tide over the lean season.
With China’s aid, a number of important facilities were put in place, including:
- National Sports Stadium
- Chitungwiza Garment Factory
- New Parliament Building
- Agricultural Technology Demonstration Center
- Valley Dam
- Harare Rural School
- Bindura Rural School
- Iron Mask Orphanage Primary School
- China-Africa Friendship Primary School
- Hatcliffe China-Zimbabwe Friendship High School
- Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital
- Mahusekwa Hospital
- 500 boreholes completed plus another 500 being implemented
- The Kariba South Hydropower Station which added 300MW to the national grid;
- Unit 7 and 8 of Hwange Thermal Power Station which is expected to bring another 600 megawatts by 2022;
- Expansion of Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport which is expected to handle six million passengers annually;
- The new Victoria Falls International Airport, which is acclaimed as a “game-changer”, bringing about a positive growth in terms of infrastructural development as well as attracting a huge appetite for investment from local and international players in the resort city.
- The National Backbone Fibre link
- Sino Zimbabwe Cement Company
- Zimasco, the famous local ferrochrome producer once bedevilled by debt, was revived by Sinosteel, a leading Chinese State-owned enterprise
Let me make one point clear. China is not interested in taking natural resources from Zimbabwe. There are a lot of cooperation agreements signed between the two governments, but none of them is about mining. In the mining of precious metals, such as gold, diamond and platinum, there is not a single state-owned enterprise from China.
Chinese experts worked side by side with their Zimbabwean colleagues in the fields of garment-making, embroidery, agriculture, language teaching, geological survey, and health care. Since 1985, 17 Chinese medical teams have worked in this beautiful country to tend to the people’s health needs. Since 2013, three batches of Chinese agricultural experts have been sent to Zimbabwe to help local farmers improve agricultural production. About 5 000 Zimbabwean have joined Chinese training programs.
We also provided, in various ways, airplanes, soybeans, fertilizers, mobile solar power units, and equipment for conferencing, wildlife protection, broadcasting, and medical purposes.
Last year, China-Zimbabwe trade reached US$1.343 billion, with exports to China up by 9.51 percent year on year to US$974 million. Today, China is the largest buyer of the country’s tobacco and its fourth largest source of investment.
In early February, when the African continent had not reported a confirmed case of Covid-19, the Chinese Embassy managed to secure 300 test kits for Zimbabwe so that it would not be caught off guard. As the pandemic makes its way into the country, China acted immediately to send here 2 000 N95 masks, 2 000 protective gowns, 500 infrared thermometers, 1 920 eye patches, 2,000 pairs of sterile latex surgical gloves and surgical shoe covers. The second batch, larger in number, is expected to arrive soon.
The Chinese business community also cares deeply about their Zimbabwean brothers. Private Chinese businessmen helped to spruce up the Wilkins Infectious Disease Hospital and plans to donate 100 000 USD worth of medical equipment. Jack Ma’s first batch of donation, including 20 000 test kits, 1,000 protective suits, and 100,000 masks have already been put to use in Zimbabwe and the second batch, including 18,900 swabs and extraction kits, 3 700 protective suits, 3,700 face shields, 9,500 pairs of gloves, 36 thermal guns and 5 ventilators has arrived. Back in China, provincial and municipal authorities are also mobilizing to send help.
In the past 40 years, the world has traveled a bumpy journey. So did China and Zimbabwe. But we are proud to say our two nations have always stood side by side with each other and forged ahead with one heart and one mind. Our challenges were never small, but our determination to fight as one has been taking us from one victory towards another.
I envision a future for this relationship to be based on a stable triangle of political trust, economic cooperation, and goodwill between our peoples. Let’s build on the excellent working relations and friendship between us from the very top to officials at all levels. Let’s work harder to invigorate and broaden economic cooperation. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to the nitty-gritty of providing food, water, shelter, hygienic and health care, education, and job for our people. Let’s encourage more understanding and goodwill between members of our general public. Let’s remember as long as our peoples trust each other, no challenge will stand in our way.
Six hundred years ago, the Monomotapa Empire and China’s Ming Dynasty started to engage each other in trade and commercial activities. Chinese navigator Zheng He and his fleet arrived at the eastern coast of Africa with no cannons or intention to enslave, but with gifts and a desire to make friends as equals. In the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, Chinese porcelains have been uncovered, reminding us of a friendship rooted in centuries of goodwill and affinity.
Chinese and Zimbabweans are heirs to a legacy of mutual trust, loyal support and abiding love. Those who came before us made huge sacrifices in building this legacy. With this, we have been able to conquer whatever challenges came our way. Now, it is up to each and every one of us to protect this legacy and continue to work as one in the good and bad times yet to come. In another 40 years, when our children ask about the secret of our success story, we can proudly tell them it is the comradeship our generation has been able to preserve and pass on.