Diana Nherera Herald Reporter
ZIMBABWE and China’s bilateral trade volumes in the last five years reached $1,24 billion, which is double the figure that was last recorded in 2010.Speaking at an event to mark the 35th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Zimbabwe and China in Harare yesterday, Chinese ambassador Mr Lin Lin, said tobacco and cotton accounted for 70 percent of Zimbabwe’s exports to China, contributing greatly to the revival of the economy.
“Zimbabwe receives top amount of China’s investment among African nations and China is one of the largest source of investment in Zimbabwe,” he said.
“Meanwhile, Chinese enterprises have taken up more social responsibilities, promoting local employment and conducting charity work.”
The event was also attended by Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made, Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Cde Saviour Kasukuwere, Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Supa Mandiwanzira, Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa, Speaker of Parliament Advocate Jacob Mudenda, Minister of State for Manicaland Province Cde Mandi Chimene, visiting members of the Chinese African Friendship Association and other Government officials.
The Chinese Ambassador said in the recent years, China has provided $1,5 billion of preferential concessionary and commercial loans in support of Zimbabwe’s efforts of national construction, including hundreds millions of dollars to the country.
He said people-to-people exchanges in art, education and human resource between the two countries have gained momentum and have been fruitful.
“China has sent over 100 experts to Zimbabwe to assist in areas including agriculture, geology, engineering and construction,” said Mr Lin.
“Dozens of agricultural experts have visited Zimbabwe to share experiences and technologies with local farmers and researchers.
“Every year, over 100 Zimbabweans study in Chinese universities or participate in training programmes funded by the Chinese government and quite a few Chinese artists, acrobats and art troupes come here to give wonderful performances.
“Over 300 Zimbabwean Government officials and experts from different fields take part in specific workshops in China designed to exchange experiences and enhance capacity building.”
Mr Lin said new opportunities are emerging in the areas such as economic and trade co-operation, industrial transfer, exchange of governance experience, co-operation and co-ordinations in international affairs and various people-to-people exchanges.
“We will be able to bring tangible benefits for generations to come through such concerted efforts,” he said.
Mr Lin said China was pushing forward comprehensive reforms, economic transformation and upgrading the rule of law, taking stern measures in dealing with corruption at a time when Zimbabwe is working hard to implement the Zim-Asset.
“Though we are faced with difficulties, we are fully confident that our two countries will make progress in the development paths that are best suited to our own situations and achieve common prosperity,” he said.
Mr Lin said both countries were working together to implement the outcomes of President Mugabe’s State visit to China in August last year.
“Agreements, including the concessionary loan to NetOne, food aid, construction of a new Parliament Building, the digitalisation project, the increase in the number of Zimbabwean students receiving Chinese government scholarships and mutual visa exemption for holders of diplomatic and service passports and others are being steadily carried out,” he said.
“We will join hands in further implementing the outcome of President Mugabe’s visit and lift the Sino-Zimbabwe friendship and all-round co-operation to a new height.”
Also speaking at the event, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said Zimbabwe and China relations have grown from strength to strength since independence and have continued to grow.
He said Zimbabwe is grateful to China for investing in various sectors of the economy in areas such as energy, mining, agriculture, tourism and infrastructure.
“In our efforts to revive the economy, we appreciate the willingness by the Government of the People’s Republic of China to share experiences on economic development with Zimbabwe,” said Minister Mumbengegwi.
“We have benefited and tapped immensely from experiences we shared with the National Development and Reform Commission of China during their visit to Zimbabwe in January.
“Zimbabwe has benefited immensely from various forms of support, including the implementation of the Kariba South Hydro Power Expansion project, Victoria Falls Airport Development Project, the supply of medical equipment, the development and rehabilitation of municipal supply and sewage treatment system in the City of Harare.”
Minister Mumbengegwi said Zimbabwe will continue to appreciate China’s solidarity when she exercised her veto in the United Nations Security Council to block sanctions under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter initiated by some Western countries in 2008.