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Mugabe China Strategy Pays - But Western Ties Still Needed

One of the most prominent heads of state at the Africa-China summit held in Beijing last weekend was President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who has pursued a "Look East" economic and political strategy as his ties with the West have withered.

Mr. Mugabe met with Chinese President Hu Jintao on Monday following the summit, calling China his "second home" while Hu declared their alliance "unshakeable."

Expressing his disillusionment with the West, Mr. Mugabe said China "will not let us down," noting Beijing's assistance during his country's 1970s liberation struggle.

The Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that Harare is set to receive a 2.7 million pound loan from China to reburbish its National Sports Stadium, build by the Chinese in 1987. China has also reportedly offered Zimbabwe 110 million pounds to brace its agricultural sector and purchase three Chinese-made passenger aircraft.

However, analysts say that while Zimbabwe has much to gain from cultivating Chinese favor, it cannot afford to completely sever economic ties with Western nations and institutions as Mr. Mugabe has often suggested he would like to do.

Reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with former Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Luxon Zembe, an economist, and Peter Kagwanja, democracy and governance director with the Human Science Research Council in South Africa. Kagwanja said one of China’s main attractions for Mr. Mugabe is that Beijing does not tie aid to Harare's human rights record.

More reports From VOA's Studio 7 For Zimbabwe...