A three-decade tradition . . .
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi arrived in Zimbabwe on Saturday to start his African tour. Wang is expected to make further stops in Egypt, Djibouti, Eritrea, and Burundi. Wang’s trip to the continent is part of a 30-year tradition in which Chinese foreign ministers make Africa the first destination in their official annual tour circuit. Wang’s visits also mark the 20th anniversary of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, which started in 2000 to promote mutual understanding and co-operation between the two.
Growing ties . . .
Since 2003, when Zimbabwe adopted its ‘Look East’ policy, its ties with China have been growing. Not only has China become the country’s top source of foreign direct investment, but it has also provided the finances to construct power plants, schools, and hospitals. Just last year, China gifted the country a C$180-million new parliament complex on top of a hill outside its capital, Harare. Zimbabwe is part of a larger pattern of growing Chinese investment in Africa as China scales up its Belt and Road Initiative, a series of multi-billion-dollar infrastructure projects with the aim of boosting regional connectivity and – allegedly – Chinese influence.
Not a one-sided picture . . .
Despite China’s increasing engagement on the continent, anti-Chinese sentiment is simmering in some African countries. In the 2018 presidential race, for instance, Zimbabwean opposition leader Nelson Chamisa vowed to expel Chinese investors if he won the election, complaining they were stripping resources from the country. Similarly, Deutsche Welle documented growing resistance to China’s presence in Zambia over alleged quality-control and corruption issues.
- The Washington Post: China’s foreign minister arrives in Zimbabwe on Africa tour
- South China Morning Post: How Zimbabwe’s new parliament symbolizes China’s chequebook diplomacy approach to Africa
- Deutsche Welle: Resistance growing to Chinese presence in Zambia