Zimbabwe’s president meets visiting Chinese foreign minister

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe’s president Emmerson Mnangagwa praised his country’s relations with China on Monday, after meeting the Asian giant’s foreign minister Wang Yi, who was visiting as part of an African tour to promote China’s economic and political interests on the continent.

Mnangagwa, who suspended his three-week annual leave to meet Wang, told reporters after the meeting that relations between the two countries “are on a solid foundation.”

No details of major investment deals were announced, although Vice President Constantino Chiwenga on Sunday asked Wang to support projects submitted to him by Zimbabwe. The projects were not specified.

Like in much of Africa, China has a strong presence in Zimbabwe, with investments spanning from energy to agriculture, mining and trade in wildlife as well as refurbishment of airports.

Zimbabwe badly needs investment to shore up an economy in downward spiral and skepticism about Mnangagwa’s promises of reform by Western investors.

Zimbabwe’s longstanding ties with China strengthened in 2003 when it adopted a ‘Look East’ policy after western countries imposed sanctions.

Since then, China has become Zimbabwe’s biggest source of foreign direct investment and has ties to the powerful military, including the construction of a military university on the outskirts of the capital, Harare.

Wang also visited Egypt, Djibouti, Eritrea and Burundi in his tour. China’s foreign minister frequently visits Africa at the beginning of the year to emphasize the importance that China places on the continent.