China deals a blow to Zanu PF unilateral government without MDC

BEIJING, (Reuters) – China offered aid to cholera-stricken Zimbabwe on Tuesday, calling for a national unity government to rescue the African nation from a spiral of economic and political chaos.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao announced the aid plan at a regular news conference and his bleak words suggested that Beijing was distancing itself from increasingly isolated Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.

"China along with the broader international community expresses its concern with the current constant deterioration of the economic and political situation in Zimbabwe," Liu said.

"To help the people of Zimbabwe, China is actively considering providing humanitarian economic aid, including food aid."

China has become one of the few states outside the region with relatively close ties to mineral-rich Zimbabwe’s government, and in the past Beijing has provided economic aid and arms.

But Liu’s comments indicated that while China would not join calls for Mugabe to quit, it did not want to be seen sitting on the sidelines as growing numbers of African leaders also warn that Zimbabwe faces a crisis of disease and economic collapse.

Britain, France and the United States have urged Mugabe to go. South African officials visited Zimbabwe on Tuesday to assess the crisis, responding to an unprecedented appeal for international help from Mugabe’s government.

The crisis has been exacerbated by political deadlock between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai over implementing a Sept. 15 power-sharing deal brokered by South Africa.

Liu said that deal was the key to solving Zimbabwe’s woes.

"We sincerely hope that all concerned parties in Zimbabwe will will truly focus on the interests of the country and its people and soon form a government of national unity," he said.

But China is averse to speaking out on other nations’ domestic problems and Liu did not join international calls for Mugabe to quit.

"Who serves as Zimbabwe’s leader, and how to resolve the political problems they now face, are an internal affair of Zimbabwe and China will not interfere," Liu said.

Asked about concerns that the aid may not reach those most in need, Liu said his government would "ensure that this aid is able to reach the hands of the people of Zimbabwe".