ED off to Beijing for key talks

President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday left Harare for Beijing to attend the Forum for China-Africa Co-operation (Focac), with Zimbabwe’s leader saying elevation of relations between the two countries to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership level paved the way for mutual economic development.

The President will join other African Heads of States and Government for the top-level meeting. President Mnangagwa is expected to hold bilateral talks with his host, President Xi Jinping this week.

At Robert Mugabe International Airport, President Mnangagwa was seen off by Vice-President Dr Constantino Chiwenga, Cabinet ministers, and other senior Government officials and service chiefs.

China’s Deputy Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Zhao Baogang was also at the airport, while his boss Ambassador Huang Ping left earlier for Beijing to await President Mnangagwa there.

In an interview with Chinese media organisations before his departure, President Mnangagwa said President Xi had reinvigorated Sino-Zimbabwe ties.

He also said, “We are committed to meet all the debts which we owe Chinese companies. I will seek (President Xi’s) indulgence to say although as Zimbabwe and under my administration we commit ourselves to honour our debts, but to do so we also need to be capitalised, we need to be supported to do so.

“We need to leapfrog and expand our economy and to do so we cannot do it on the basis of domestic investment alone. It is very lean, it very thin so we need friends like China to assist us to do projects that are viable, that generate income revenue and have capacity to pay for the loans. So I will again find an opportunity to seek his (Xi) indulgence in that direction.

Focac, he said, was a “God-given” opportunity for Africa to accelerate development. While Zimbabwe had not benefitted much from a US$60 billion kitty availed by China to Africa over the last three years, President Mnangagwa said his new administration would ensure the country made full use of such opportunities.

“Fortunately we are now able to relate to the National Development and Reform Commission of China which is assisting us in the preparation of bankable projects and we shall make maximum use of that facility so that we go and present bankable projects,” he said.

“In that regard we have several projects which we have put forward and this time around we hope we will be able to put bankable projects which meet the criteria for assessment by China.”

He said Focac would also help Africa leverage on what China offered under its Belt and Road Initiative.

“We are aware of the BRI and most African countries would want to link into that initiative. We in Zimbabwe are committed to the BRI and we do not want Zimbabwe to be left behind because we want to get linked to global markets and the global economy,” he said.

President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe would continue to learn from China’s reform and opening up policy and “see what characteristics are suitable to our own situation”.

“There is no need to reinvent the wheel when other countries have passed through the same road,” he said. Sunday Mail Reporter-Xinhua News Agency

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