Chinese envoy heads to Zimbabwe in new president Mnangagwa’s first week in office
Two-day trip will be the first reported visit by a Chinese official since Mugabe’s exit
Beijing is sending an envoy to African ally Harare just days after Zimbabwe’s new president was sworn in, ending the 37-year-rule of Robert Mugabe.
Assistant foreign minister Chen Xiaodong would be in Zimbabwe for two days from Wednesday as a special envoy of the Chinese government, state-run Xinhua reported on Tuesday.
Chen’s trip will be the first reported visit by a Chinese official since Emmerson Mnangagwa took presidential office on Friday.
China is one of Zimbabwe’s biggest allies and investors, with Beijing supporting military training and construction of hospitals and schools in the African nation.
Beijing’s role in the leadership change has also been under scrutiny.
About a week before the de facto coup to remove Mugabe, Zimbabwean army chief General Constantino Chiwenga visited Beijing to meet Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan.
Asked whether Beijing was briefed during Chiwenga’s visit on a possible military takeover, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said he was “not aware of the details”.
On Saturday, Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated Mnangagwa on his inauguration, saying the relationship between the two countries had withstood the challenges of time and changes in international conditions.
China’s foreign ministry also said Beijing would support Zimbabwe’s development under Mnangagwa’s presidency.
“We have noticed that Mnangagwa’s speech was welcomed by the Zimbabwean people and the international community,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Monday.
“China supports Zimbabwe to follow a development pattern that suits its own conditions and believes Zimbabwe will achieve greater development under the leadership of President Mnangagwa.”