By Victoria Ruzvidzo
President Mnangagwa met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People here yesterday as Zimbabwe and China elevated their relations to a more comprehensive and mutually beneficial strategic partnership. The meeting was the climax of a five-day State visit by President Mnangagwa, which ends on Friday.
He is accompanied by First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa.
The two Presidents inspected a Guard of Honour before the discussions.
Zimbabwe and China have been strong political allies since the liberation struggle and yesterday the two leaders said they would consolidate economic relations.
In his welcome remarks, President Xi said the visit marked a new dispensation of cooperation between China and Zimbabwe, adding that his country was ready to take the relations a step further.
Zimbabwe and China have been political allies since the days of the liberation struggle.
In his remarks, President Mnangagwa said he was grateful to China for its support and noted that President Xi was one of the first to send an envoy congratulating him when he assumed office last November.
“The Government and people of Zimbabwe and myself, personally, appreciate the support you gave us following the peaceful transition that led to my assuming office as the President of Zimbabwe. You sent an envoy immediately after my elevation.
“I also congratulate you on your re-election as President of the People’s Republic of China. Zimbabwe stands committed to further strengthen existing relations between the two countries,” said President Mnangagwa.
President Xi was recently re-elected as the party and China’s President.
His term of office is open-ended.
During the meeting yesterday, President Mnangagwa reminisced on his military training in the Asian country in the 1960s and said the political ties between the two would be buttressed on the economic front.
The two then held closed-door discussions.
Briefing journalists after the meeting, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Acting Minister Simon Khaya Moyo said the Presidents revisited relations between Zimbabwe and China, and between Zanu-PF and the Communist Party of China.
They also agreed to strengthen ties between Harare and Beijing.
Last night, a State banquet was held in honour of President Mnangagwa.
It was attended by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Lieutenant-General Sibusiso Moyo (Retired), Patrick Chinamasa (Finance and Economic Development), Ambassador Khaya Moyo (Energy and Power Development), Dr Mike Bimha (Industry and Commerce), Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri (Environment, Water and Climate), Supa Mandiwanzira ( Information Communication and Technology), Dr Joram Gumbo (Transport and Infrastructure Development) and Prisca Mupfumira (Tourism and Hospitality Industry).
Chinese government officials and senior officials from the Communist Party of China were also in attendance.
China has been Zimbabwe’s all-weather friend, standing by Zimbabwe at its hour of need.
When faced by debilitating sanctions that haunted Zimbabwe, particularly in the last two decades, China supplied agricultural inputs and implements to augment local efforts, among other areas of support.
Furthermore, the Asian giant has stood by Zimbabwe and other Third World countries, protecting them against bullying by the West.
The country’s support to Zimbabwe and the continent at large is largely described as one that is not tied to political strings.