Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Zimbabwe Crisis Turns Spotlight On China’s Role In Africa

When China’s president Xi Jinping arrived in Harare for a state visit two years ago, he descended from his aircraft and clasped hands for several minutes with Robert Mugabe in a gesture of warmth that resonated across Africa.

Beijing had stood by the Zimbabwean president since the time his Zanu-PF party ended white minority rule in 1980 and throughout the period of sanctions imposed in 2002 after Mr Mugabe’s government organised violent seizures of white land.

“[Xi] clearly had a personal relationship with Mugabe, not just a political-military one,” said Hannah Ryder, founder of the Development Reimagined consultancy.
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Zimbabwe Crisis Turns Spotlight On China’s Role In Africa
Now, with Mr Mugabe under house arrest in Harare, China’s role in Africa is once again in the spotlight. General Constantino Chiwenga, the head of Zimbabwe’s defence forces and the architect of last week’s military takeover, was in Beijing days before he flew home and deployed troops on the streets of the Zimbabwean capital.

News of the trip fuelled reports that China had been forewarned of the military operation. Beijing angrily dismissed the speculation this week, saying it was evidence of “evil intention” in the western media to “drive a wedge” between China and Africa.

Luke Patey, a senior researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies, said that, so far, there is little indication that Beijing had direct influence on the move against Mr Mugabe and “we should not exaggerate the actual role of China”.

“At the same time, Beijing didn’t stand in the way,” he added, suggesting the increasingly erratic Mr Mugabe, 93, may have been seen as a liability. “Mugabe clearly lost China’s favour.” Zimbabwe Crisis Turns Spotlight On China’s Role In Africa

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