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Big thermal power deal crowns rare trip by China’s Xi to Zimbabwe

On Wednesday Xi will conduct a short State visit to South Africa before he and South African President Jacob Zuma co-chair the summit of the Forum for China- Africa Cooperation (Focac) in Johannesburg later in the week.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe hailed his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping as a “true and dear friend” while the Chinese leader returned the compliment by calling him a seasoned statesman and the “founding father of Zimbabwe“.

Xi is the most prominent leader for many years to visit Zimbabwe – a diplomatic coup for Mugabe, who has fostered ties with China since Beijing backed several African movements fighting to end colonial rule.

Representatives from 120 media organizations in 47 African countries and some Chinese media participated in the summit, whose theme was “A new era of win-win media cooperation between China and Africa”.

South Africa will take advantage of hosting the summit by pushing for progress in existing areas of trade and cooperation between the two nations, and seeking new areas of cooperation, Danish said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, centre, inspects the guard of honour upon his arrival in Harare, Zimbabwe, Tuesday, Dec. 1.

With so much financial hardship, many Zimbabweans are hoping that President Xi’s visit isn’t just a symbolic tour, but a “serious and sincere” effort to help them change their lives for the better.

“China-South Africa relations have gone beyond the bilateral scope and gained growing strategic significance and global impact”, Xi said.

China’s Sinohydro Corp won the $1.5 billion bid to add two generating plants at Hwange in western Zimbabwe in October last year, in the most ambitious move yet to tackle the country’s crippling electricity shortages.

The Mali attack showed that “China’s vast business interests in Africa face an uncertain future if security issues are not tackled”, said Shu Yunguo, director of the Center for African Studies at Shanghai Normal University.

“The people of Zimbabwe are overjoyed to host you”, Mugabe told Xi at a state banquet.

China is Africa’s largest trading partner and the trade volume between them amounted to $220 billion in 2014.

To see China’s evolving foreign policy, look to Africa, where a desire to protect economic investment is leading to a revision of the country’s hands-off approach to the internal affairs of other nations.

Mugabe, whose country is struggling with mass company closures, high unemployment, low liquidity and foreign direct investment and food shortages, has said he and the Chinese leader will discuss “some of the projects and programs we want China to assist us in undertaking”.

“This is an historic event as it is the first time the summit has been held on African soil, and it represents an important platform for high-level dialogue and cooperation”.



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