Monday, 9 February 2015

High-powered Chinese delegation arrives

Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Reporter
A Chinese Government delegation led by the country’s State Councillor Yang Jiechi, arrived in Harare last night to discuss the implementation of the mega deals signed by President Mugabe and his counterpart, President Xi Jinping, when he visited the Asian giant last August.

State Councillor is a very senior position equivalent to Vice Premier.

The 20-member delegation that includes China’s deputy ministers of foreign affairs and commerce is scheduled to meet the African Union and Sadc Chair President Mugabe during the three-day visit.

Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Lin Lin were among the dignitaries that received Mr Yang and his delegation at the Harare International Airport.
Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko (centre) and Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi (right) welcome Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi at Harare International Airport last night.
An official with the Chinese Embassy in Harare said the delegation would first meet Vice President Mphoko this morning before meeting President Mugabe in the afternoon.

“At 9 am tomorrow (today), the delegation will meet Vice President Mphoko at the Foreign Affairs boardroom and the meeting is expected to last for two hours.

“In the afternoon the same day, the delegation proposes to meet President Mugabe but the actual time is yet to be confirmed,” he said.

VP Mphoko, according to the official, will host a banquet for the visiting team at Rainbow Towers at 7pm today.

On Saturday another official with the Chinese Embassy told our sister paper The Sunday Mail that the interface between Zimbabwe and China would drive the implementation of the deals to greater heights.

The official said the delegation would engage the Zimbabwean Government on ways to promote bilateral relations and finalisation of the implementation of the outcomes of last year’s State visit.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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 $1 billion concessionary and commercial loans.

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

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

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