China to help lift Zimbabwe's economy

Updated: 2015-12-03 07:52

By Zhao Huanxin in Harare and Zhang Yunbi in Beijing(China Daily USA)

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 China to help lift Zimbabwe's economy

President Xi Jinping greets his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe before their talks in Harare on Tuesday. Huang Jingwen / Xinhua

Xi says trade ties will improve, with priority of modernizing agriculture, mining

The economy and wildlife protection were the highlights of President Xi Jinping's first visit to Zimbabwe, the fifth-largest economy in Africa, and Xi said China is ready to help Zimbabwe optimize its economy and will introduce more Chinese investors.

After their meeting on Tuesday, the two presidents witnessed the signing of a bilateral agreement on economic and technological cooperation.

The pact was inked at a time that China has become a major trading partner of Zimbabwe's and its largest source of foreign investment. Bilateral trade reached $1.24 billion last year, a year-on-year increase of 12.7 percent.

Other deals covered such fields as infrastructure construction, production capacity, investment and financing, and wildlife protection.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe warmly welcomed Xi to the talks and said "China is Zimbabwe's all-weather friend".

Mugabe said his country hopes to learn from China's experience in socioeconomic development, receive more assistance from China and expand bilateral cooperation in such areas as agriculture, industry and infrastructure.

Xi said China will enhance economic and trade ties between the two countries in production, processing and investment, while encouraging more Chinese companies to invest in Zimbabwe with a priority on modernizing agriculture, mining and manufacturing.

Chinese companies also will be encouraged to invest in and operate businesses in the power sector, telecommunications, transportation and other basic infrastructure sectors, as well as to innovate on means of funding, the president said.

Yao Guimei, an expert on China-Africa economic cooperation at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the assistance and support from China "have introduced robust support to the economic growth of Zimbabwe".

"Of course, China wins the market and resources in return, and the two sides have achieved mutual benefits," Yao said.

Liu Guijin, former special representative of the Chinese government for African affairs, said that because this was Xi's first visit to Zimbabwe, it was of "extraordinary significance". "Zimbabwe is an old friend of China's, and it has offered consistent, firm support to China in regard to major issues concerning China," Liu said.

Xi also said China is willing to help other African countries with development, and he expressed optimism about the forthcoming Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Summit in Johannesburg.

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Li Lianxing contributed to this story.