Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi arrived Thursday for a two-day visit to Zimbabwe amid hopes in Harare for billions of dollars in foreign direct invesment investment from Beijing.
Yang is leading an 11-member delegation and is expected to sign economic co-operation agreements, China’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe said in a statement.
"China is ready to work with Zimbabwe to further enhance political mutual trust, expand mutually beneficial cooperation and steadily elevate our friendship and cooperation," Yang said in a statement issued on arrival.
"China sets store by its relations with Zimbabwe and regards Zimbabwe as a good friend, good brother and good partner."
Yang was met at the Harare International Airport by his Zimbabwean counterpart, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, and several other senior government officials.
Chinese Ambassador to Harare Xin Shunkang said the minister will hold separate meetings with President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Mumbengegwi before launching an agricultural research center at a college outside the capital.
Xin added that the minister would also sign various business deals during his stay.
"Such regular visits to Africa show China attaches growing importance to its relationship with Africa," Gong Shaopeng, a professor of international politics at the China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, told the website China.org.
Yang's visit comes a few days after alleged ZANU-PF youths targetted foreign-owned businesses, some of them Chinese, at the Gulf shopping complex in Harare.
ZANU-PF insists its youth were not responsible for the attacks. Political officer Tang Shenting from the Chinese Embassy in Harare said the visit aims to consolidate the friendship between China and Zimbabwe.
Economic Development Minister Tapiwa Mashakada said recently that China is considering investments of $10 billion, mainly in the mining, agriculture and energy industries. The government is also considering a US$3 billion loan from China to be repaid using platinum reserves and income from state-controlled diamond mines, according to the weekly Zimbabwe Independent newspaper.
The MDC formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has dismissed the visit saying it will only benefit ZANU-PF and not the country. Its foreign affairs spokesman Eliphas Mukonoweshuro said his party does not expect much from Yang's visit.
ZANU-PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said events at the Gulf Shopping Complex will not dent Sino-Zimbabwe relations.
Political analyst Charles Mangongera said Harare should be careful in its dealings with China.
Art Faculty Dean Dr Pedzisai Mashiri of the University of Zimbabwe told VOA that Yang’s visit is no different from other countries as long as they seek to improve bilateral relations on equal footing. He sees China’s Africa approach as selfish.
After Zimbabwe Yang is also expected to visit Gabon, Chad, Guinea and Togo, as well as the United Arab Emirates (UAE).