Chinese deputy premier expected today

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    Vice Premier Councillor  Yang Jiechi,

    Vice Premier Councillor
    Yang Jiechi,

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    A high-powered Chinese government delegation led by Deputy Premier Yang Jiechi arrives in Zimbabwe today to discuss implementation of deals signed by President Mugabe and his counterpart, President Xi Jinping, during his State visit to the Asian giant last August.

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    The delegation – which includes China’s deputy ministers of foreign affairs and commerce – is scheduled to meet the African Union and Sadc Chair during the three-day visit.

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    An official with the Chinese Embassy in Harare told The Sunday Mail that the interface between the two governments would drive implementation of the deals.

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    “State Councillor of the People’s Republic of China and s who is a top advisor on foreign policy will arrive in the country on Sunday evening (today) to engage the Zimbabwean Government on ways to promote bilateral relations,” said the official.

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    “The delegation will also include very senior officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs; and Commerce, including the two deputy ministers. The purpose of the visit is to enhance bilateral co-operation as well as multi-lateral issues of common interest.

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    “But, more importantly, they will also talk about the finalisation of the implementation of the outcomes of last year’s State visit.”

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    President Mugabe and President Xi Jinping assented to nine mega deals in various fields such as infrastructure development, energy and telecommunications.

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    The agreements include an undertaking by a Chinese company to digitalise national broadcaster ZBC and Transmedia ahead of the June 2015 Sadc digitalisation deadline.

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    A consortium of local companies and Chinese players signed an integrated project worth more than US$2 billion which will witness the joint-venture firm construct a 600 megawatt thermal power station in Gwayi by 2017; produce 2,4 million tonnes of underground coal yearly; construct the Gwayi-Shangani Dam and the Gwayi-Insukamini Power Station transmission line.

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    Apart from these deals, Zimbabwe and China have always been close co-operating partners.

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    Trade between the two countries grew marginally to nearly US$1,2 billion in 2014, up from US$1,1 billion in 2013.

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    Tobacco, tobacco products and cotton accounted for most of Zimbabwe’s exports to the Asian giant.

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    In addition, China has over the last three years provided Zimbabwe with over US$100 million interest-free loans and grants, and the Chinese EximBank extended over US$1 billion concessionary and commercial loans.

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    China is also supporting the Southern African nation to expand Kariba South Hydro Power Station, which will add another 300MW to the electricity grid.

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    Other joint projects are the expansion of Victoria Falls International Airport and construction of the Agriculture Technology Demonstration Centre.

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    And with President Mugabe as AU Chair, Sino-Africa relations are expected to flourish given the large-scale Chinese investments on the continent.

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    Economic analyst Mr Witness Chinyama said, “The visit represents a solid statement of intent as a follow-up to last year’s agreements. What should be done now is for the real work on the ground to begin and this visit shows that we are indeed moving towards that direction.

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    “The Chinese model of investment – whereby they come and set up factories and bring along with them their technologies – is exactly what the country requires. This is the kind of investment that creates jobs, boosts export receipts and leads to general stabilisation of the economy.”

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    Another economist, Mr Tonderai Kaboko, added: “The visit is significant in the sense that it shows that there is progress being made inasfar as implementing the deals that were signed by the President last year.

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    “This also gives everyone confidence in the Government and the work it is doing since coming into office just over a year-and-half ago.

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    “The Zimbabwean economy needs such confidence-building given the way foreign investors’ confidence levels had plummeted.

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    “Because of the systematic de-industrialisation that has been affecting the country over the last decade, we need such investments.”