The Sunday Mail
Sunday Mail Reporter
Zimbabwe and China will continue deepening economic relations, and Beijing will duly support Harare’s new five-year economic plan, the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), Ambassador Guo Shaochun has said.
China’s chief diplomat to Zimbabwe said although the coronavirus disrupted global trade and supply chains, the two countries continued to cement relations in 2020 through cooperation in fighting the pandemic.
The remarks were made in a special end-of-year editorial for 2020, which marked the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Harare and Beijing.
Ambassador Guo said 2021 promises a number of positives, as the eight major initiatives that China proposed at the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit in 2018 will enter the final stage of implementation.
Senegal is scheduled to host the 8th FOCAC Summit this year.
“We will continue to help Chinese businesses in Zimbabwe revive their vigour as soon as possible, ensure the steady progress of projects funded by China, bring more Chinese investors to Zimbabwe and find more ways, including under the AfCFTA (African Continental Free Trade Area) framework, to lift bilateral trade,” said Ambassador Guo.
“Next year (2021) will mark a new beginning for FOCAC with another summit on the calendar. As part of the wider picture, China-Zimbabwe cooperation will embrace a greater momentum. We look forward to dovetailing China’s 14th five-year plan with Zimbabwe’s NDS1 to advance cooperation in industrialisation, extending Zimbabwe’s value chains and advancing urbanisation.”
In 2020, the two countries exhibited “unbreakable solidarity in face of Covid-19”.
Ambassador Guo said China is proud to have helped Zimbabwe become one of the first Southern African countries to receive Covid-19 testing kits.
“This was followed by a steady stream of ventilators, masks, goggles, protective suits and many other medical supplies coming from China. According to incomplete figures, a total of 1,69 million masks, more than 51 000 testing kits, 131 ventilators and oxygenerators, and 141 000 pieces of other equipment and PPEs have been donated by Chinese governments at different levels, private sectors and ordinary well-wishers.”
In 2020, China sent two separate teams of medical experts to share knowledge and expertise in fighting Covid-19, while Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals formed a tie-up with a Chinese medical facility to build capacity in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.
Also, Harare’s Wilkins Hospital became the first designated Covid-19 hospital in Zimbabwe after it was refurbished through support from Chinese companies.
Harare and Beijing’s partnership became even more critical in 2020 as the two countries worked hard to ensure that existing cooperation was not derailed by the pandemic.
“The good progress at the projects financed by Chinese grants — the New Parliament Building, the pharmaceutical warehouse, and the 500-borehole drilling — and other flagship projects, such as the Hwange Thermal Power Station expansion and Robert (Gabriel) Mugabe International Airport expansion, is very reassuring in these difficult times.
“We turned challenges into new opportunities for private sector initiatives. Chinese investors opened a factory here to produce facial masks, creating jobs and contributing to the country’s goal of growing the secondary sectors.
“Chinese firms teamed up with a local private medical institution to establish a state-of-the-art Covid-19 treatment centre. In the meantime, we continued to look for ways to boost Zimbabwe’s agricultural exports to China,” added Ambassador Guo.