(Xinhua) -- As Zimbabwe celebrates Independence Day
on April 18, China remains the country’s all-weather friend and
continues to give a helping hand during difficult times.
The Chinese embassy in Harare is as
old as Zimbabwe’s independence, having opened on the same day
the Union Jack was put down to symbolize the end of British rule
and give way to black majority rule nearly 37 years ago.
Today, relations between the two
countries continue to grow on the political, economic and
China was one of the first countries
to rally behind Zimbabwe when it issued a distress call in March
for assistance following floods that left hundreds of families
homeless and in need of food by donating 1 million U.S. dollars
to the government on March 31.
Heavy rains that were worsened by
Cyclone Dineo in mid-February left 271 people dead, another 128
injured and nearly 2,000 homeless.
The deaths were caused by lightning
strikes, drowning and landslides, according to the Civil
Protection Unit, which added that nearly 2,600 homesteads were
damaged in varying degrees.
The Chinese Red Cross Society also
gave 50,000 dollars and the Chinese embassy and community in
Zimbabwe gave another 10,000 dollars to help the flood victims.
On April 3, China also donated 12,000
tons of rice to assist the needy, including the victims of the
This was in addition to another 19,000
tons of rice Zimbabwe received from China in 2016 following
President Mugabe’s declaration of a state of disaster after an
El Nino induced drought ravaged parts of the country in 2015/16.
Public Service, Labor and Social
Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira, who received the latest
donation, was full of praise for the Chinese government for the
“Today we are witnessing another
contribution from China where they are donating 12,173
tonnes of rice to Zimbabwe. We appreciate the gesture made
by China,” the minister said.
Chinese Embassy official Luo Xi said
the donation was testimony of China’s commitment to maintaining
strong, friendly ties with Zimbabwe.
With weather conditions hovering
between droughts and floods in recent years, China also came to
Zimbabwe’s assistance in 2014 when it donated 500,000 dollars to
help flood victims in Masvingo province.
Also in 2014, China and Zimbabwe
signed agreements under which China would provide financial
support for the development of economic enablers such as energy,
roads, railways, telecommunication, agriculture and tourism.
This was followed by more signing of
agreements during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Zimbabwe in
December 2015 where, among others, one was signed for the
assembly of Chinese motor vehicles in Zimbabwe.
The motor vehicle deal culminated in
Chinese automotive company Beijing Automotive Group Co. Ltd (BAIC
Group) forming a joint venture with two Zimbabwean companies to
form Beiqi Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd which recently launched a top of
the range pick-up truck - the Grand Tiger.
The local partners are the
government-owned Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries (which had
not been operational for more than four years) and automotive
and spare parts dealer Astol Motors who jointly own 49 percent
of shares in the joint venture.
China has over the past few years been
the largest investor in Zimbabwe, injecting more than 46.5
million dollars in Foreign Direct Investment between January and
Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe Huang
Ping recently outlined the projects which had recently been
completed or were in progress in the country with China’s
These include the new Victoria Falls
International Airport which was done by China Jiangsu
International and financed through a 150 million-dollar-loan
from China Export Import Bank and was commissioned by Mugabe in
the end of 2016.
The Kariba Hydropower Expansion
Project is expected to be completed in early 2018 at a cost of
355 million dollars to add 300 MW to the existing 750 MW
“One generator is going to be put into
operation by the end of this year,” he said.
He also said the expansion of Hwange
Thermal Power Station was expected to be financed by the Chinese
Eximbank while telecommunications projects were also progressing
In sickness and in health, the Chinese
have stuck with Zimbabwe as evidenced by the agreement by China
to build a pharmaceutical warehouse in Harare.
“The Harare Pharmaceutical Warehouse
Project has finished the inspection work and the minute has
been signed by the two sides,” Huang said.
China also built a 6 million dollar
hospital in rural Marondera, Mashonaland East Province, under
the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
The 129-bed Mahusekwa Hospital, also
known as the China-Zimbabwe Friendship Hospital and located
about 70 km to the south of Harare, opened its doors to the
public in 2013.
It offers emergency treatment, x-ray,
ultrasound scan, maternity and dental services as well as
specialist services such as CT scan, endoscopy and orthopaedics.
With a staff complement of 175 staff
members including three medical doctors, the hospital is
supposed to serve Marondera District which has an estimated
population of around 187,000.
However, due to the extensive and
specialist health services it offers, the hospital attracts
people from Harare and as far as 200 km away.
China has also in recent years offered
health support to Zimbabwe, including a 90 million dollar
medical loan facility for the supply of medical equipment and
Harare is also implementing a water
and sanitation rehabilitation project to boost water supply to
the city under a 144 million dollar loan facility financed by
the China Eximbank.
China has also built schools under
FOCAC, and together with the Chinese community in Zimbabwe,
given to charity.
“China is a friend indeed and has
helped us during our times of need,” said Conrad
Mashingaidze, a Zimbabwean living in Harare, who added that
his aunt had benefited from a free eye cataract operation
offered by visiting Chinese doctors in 2011.