Harare (New Ziana) – China says it will not be distracted from pursuing its long-standing mutually beneficial relations with Zimbabwe by ongoing Western-sponsored campaigns to discredit its businesses in the Southern African country.
While the Zimbabwe government and most analysts consider China an all-weather friend, not everyone is happy as Western governments and their local acolytes say the relationship with China is one-sided in favour of the Asian country.
In the latest attack on China, a grouping of 27 obscure NGOs fronted by the Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) recently published, without evidence, an article accusing Chinese businesses in Zimbabwe of several wrongdoings.
“We, the Zimbabwe Civil Society groups, united in our common objective of defending our communities and national heritage against investment projects that disempower and impoverish our people, seek to register our deep concern with the behaviour of Chinese business operations in Zimbabwe,” read part of the article.
But, the Chinese embassy in Zimbabwe said this was part of a coordinated strategy to demonise Beijing for its unwavering support for Zimbabwe.
“We are well aware China’s position and practice of opposing illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe and non-interference in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs makes some political forces very unhappy and anxious. This is the underlying reason behind their attack and stigmatization of China, Chinese enterprises, and Chinese citizens in this country. However, we are determined to continue to work in this way to make them unhappy and anxious,” it said.
“Anyone who is genuine about helping Zimbabwe succeed should feel free the join the race. Let us see who can really exert themselves for ordinary Zimbabweans to have a better life. Let us compete for the title of top contributor to the Zimbabwean economy and the well-being of Zimbabwean people. The invitation stands.”
The embassy called out the NGOs for dragging Chinese investors into domestic political sideshows a scenario it said would only hurt Zimbabweans and the country’s development aspirations.
It said China was in favour of fostering win-win partnerships, highlighting that openness and inclusiveness were the defining principles of its policy towards Zimbabwe and Africa.
Both the Chinese government and businesses were ready to comply with all local laws and regulations, the embassy said.
“We firmly support the Government in Zimbabwe in developing a robust legal and regulatory framework to ensure lawful practices by all foreign investors in Zimbabwe. The Embassy has proposed multiple times for the Government of Zimbabwe to establish a compliance monitoring mechanism in all Zimbabwean and foreign mining companies to ensure better compliance.
“We welcome any laws and policies that can increase transparency in all local and foreign companies, including better information access to their contracts, taxes and beneficial ownership,” it said.
Zimbabwe and China relations, which were upgraded to strategic partnership in 2017, date back to the days of the war of Liberation when Beijing provided material and training support to freedom fighters.
Currently, multi-billion dollar infrastructure projects, including the Hwange Power Station and the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport expansion projects, are being undertaken with Chinese support and funding.
On top of that, China has been at the forefront of providing Covid-19 vaccines to Zimbabwe, through purchases and donations.
To date, Zimbabwe has secured 12 million vaccine doses from China.
Across the continent, governments have benefited immensely from co-operation with China on infrastructure development, with billions having gone into transport networks, energy, water, and health and educational institutions.