A seasoned diplomat and the cabinet minister of Zimbabwe said Africa could benefit from closer China-US cooperation as the heads of the world’s two powerful nations met.

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Asked to comment on the meeting of Chinese president Xi Jinping with his American counterpart Barack Obama in Washington Friday, Christopher Mutsvangwa, a former ambassador to China, said it is a great opportunity when the world’s first and second largest economies meet at such a high level to exchange ideas.

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“China has made a lot of progress as a developing country in recent years, while the US has a lot of technology, a lot of clout. The two of them coming together, it is very positive,” said the official, who was promoted last year from the post of deputy foreign minister to minister of welfare for war veterans and war collaborators.

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In their Washington meeting, Xi told Obama that China is willing to work together with the United States to adhere to non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation; as well as constantly expanding practical cooperation at the bilateral, regional and global levels, among others.

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Mutsvangwa said he hoped the entente between the world’s two major powers could translate into more cooperation in joint development efforts between the two so that Africa can benefit.

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“It only means that we can have a better global atmosphere,” Mutsvangwa said. “Africa needs technology, capital, businesses both from China and the US.”

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Zimbabwe, in particular, has suffered decade-old economic sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe, with massive development aids cut and investments from Western companies grounded. The European Union only lifted the sanctions late last year, but Washington remains uncommitted to the removal of Zimbabwe from its sanction list, citing democracy and human rights concerns.

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Zimbabwe then turned to the emerging economies, especially China, for cooperation. The country’s veteran president, Robert Mugabe, officially embraced a “Look East” policy in the early 2000s when the Western sanctions began to bite.

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At his UN summit speech this year, Mugabe again urged Washington to lift “illegal sanctions” to allow Zimbabwe to grow its economy in order to fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals, which pledge to “leave no one behind.”

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Mutsvangwa said he wants to credit China for the interest it has shown in Africa, particularly the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), a structure created in 2000.

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Since then, China notably ramped up its engagement with Africa. China overtook the US as Africa’s largest trading partner in 2009, while by the end of 2014 Chinese investment stock in Africa had reached US$30 billion, a figure expected to further rise to US$100 billion in the next five years.

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“Now it’s a very fashionable trend with all the major world economies taking an interest in having summits with African leaders,” he said.

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The United States, Japan, and India are among the countries that now have similar mechanisms as FOCAC.

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“It’s a very good development. It means Africa will no longer be at the margins of economic development,” Mutsvangwa said. “We are very happy about that as Africans.”

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Newly-appointed Zimbabwean deputy foreign minister, Edgar Mbwebwe, said when there is a conflict even in Africa, China and the US as global powers can always flex their muscles to influence and persuade conflicting parties to the table, which is good for global peace and security.

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“Any cooperation that will promote peace and prosperity in the world as far as I am concerned is a good relationship,” Mbwebwe said. “When there is less conflict, less areas of disagreement, development will prosper.” – Want China Times

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