Monday, July 25, 2005


Mugabe in China to seek aid boost.

Mugabe has been looking east for economic help.Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is in Beijing to discuss financial aid and trade with Chinese officials. Mr Mugabe is in China on a week-long visit, which will include meetings with President Hu Jintao and top officials. Mr Mugabe is expected to ask the Chinese for oil and food to ease his country's growing economic crisis.
Zimbabwe has one of the world's fastest shrinking economies, with 70% unemployment, soaring inflation and food and fuel shortages. No official details of what the two sides will discuss have been released, but Zimbabwe said last week that it was exploring alternative lines of credit with China and Malaysia. Mr Mugabe's government is currently in talks with South Africa about Zimbabwe's foreign debt.
On Sunday, South African President Thabo Mbeki said his country would be willing to take over part of Zimbabwe's debt to the International Monetary Fund. Mr Mbeki said the plan would be finalised following talks with the Zimbabwean government and opposition.
China, one of the world's fastest growing economies, is already ranked as one of Zimbabwe's largest trading partners and has supplied buses, civilian and military aircraft to Mr Mugabe's government. But Mr Mugabe's six-day visit demonstrates Beijing's growing involvement in the continent.
It also shows China's determination to welcome an old ally, regardless of Mr Mugabe's pariah status in the West, the BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Shanghai says. The ties between China and Mr Mugabe date back to the 1970s war of independence, when fighters from his Zanu party were armed by the Chinese.


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