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Zimbabweans applaud Chinese president's signed article in local newspapers

Updated: 2015-11-30 22:46

HARARE -- Chinese President Xi Jinping's signed article, which was published in leading Zimbabwean newspapers The Herald and The Sunday Mail, has become a hot topic in Zimbabwe as Xi is scheduled to pay a state visit to the country from Tuesday to Wednesday at the invitation of his Zimbabwean counterpart, Robert Mugabe.

In his article, Xi touched on the history of China-Zimbabwe friendship, mentioned the current exchanges in various fields between China and Zimbabwe, and charted the course for future development of China-Zimbabwe relations.

Xi's article has drawn positive responses as many Zimbabweans believed that he struck a warm tone in his article when talking about the long-standing friendship between China and Zimbabwe.

Simon Khaya-Moyo, Minister of Policy Coordination and Promotion of Socio-Economic Ventures in the President's Office, said the visit is a milestone event that Zimbabwe feels proud of.

"It's an honor. The visit is an indication of the excellent relations between the two presidents, the two countries and peoples of the two countries," he said.

The visit was important because China was Zimbabwe's all-weather friend which was making huge contributions to Zimbabwe's economy, said Khaya-Moyo, who is also chairman of the ruling Zanu-PF party.

"As you know, we faced East after the imposition of illegal sanctions by the West and our Look East policy has paid very excellent dividends. There are a lot of projects going on and this is because of China, which is making huge contributions to our investment and on a number of key areas of the economy, be it energy, infrastructure and so forth," Khaya-Moyo said.

"Despite China and Zimbabwe being far away from each other, we have been supporting each other for a long time. I hope this tie can grow stronger in the future," said Kizito Sikuka, a researcher with the Southern African Research and Documentation Center.

Heather Chingono, senior lecturer at the Department of Politics and Administrative Studies, University of Zimbabwe, said there are quite a number of issues regarding Zimbabwe and China that President Xi has referred to, such as poverty eradication.

Xi also mentioned the fact that China supports the current five-year plan that the Zimbabwean government has come up with, Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset), which is supposed to run all the way to 2018, the expert said.

"I find that quite intriguing for the Chinese government to actually realize that Zimbabwe is trying to emulate their own five-year policy plans," Chingono said.

"The Chinese president has also sort of made promises that he will be able to meet friends from all sectors if you read through his speech. That gives me hope. I see a benevolent statesman in him who is ready to meet even the ordinary people," the expert said.

"While Zimbabwe's developmental interests go beyond the ZimAsset policy, we see that the Chinese president is making such pledges, and it means he is with Zimbabwe, he becomes an all-weather friend that Zimbabwe has been talking about," Chingono said. The expert added that this sends a message to the world that Zimbabwe is talking about a Look East policy that is likely to bring about tangible results.

Talking about China's remarkable achievements in reducing poverty, the expert said Zimbabwe should learn from China.

"I am hoping that even as President Xi Jinping has stated in his speech that it's not just about helping Zimbabwe, but it's also about Zimbabwe emulating the path of development that China has actually gone through," Chingono said.

"I want to make the last very important point, the fact that the president has mentioned that our relationship is based on sincerity and friendship," the expert said, adding that in Zimbabwe, people also value friendship and that she hopes Zimbabwe-China relations continue in a very friendly and cordial environment.

Levy Nyagura, vice chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe, said that Xi's visit is an exciting event for the university, which hosts a Confucius Institute.

"We want to believe that the visit by the president of China will bring good fortunes to the institution ... We will also be ready to demonstrate how our students are performing ...how as an institution we have institutionalized the Chinese language and culture as part of the university curriculum," Nyagura said.

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