Chinese President Xi Jinping began a two-day state visit to Zimbabwe on Tuesday where he is expected to sign multi-million dollar deals with President Robert Mugabe’s government.
Thousands lined-up along the streets of Harare to welcome Mr. Xi, whose visit is being lauded by Harare as proof that its Look East policy is beginning to bear fruit.
Some wore T-shirts praising the friendship between Zimbabwe and China which enters 35 years this year.
Several government ministers and diplomats also turned up to welcome the Chinese leader.
Mr. Xi inspected a guard of honor at the airport but did not speak on his arrival. He is expected to address a joint press conference with Mr. Mugabe after signing economic deals later Tuesday at the State House.
He was honored with a 21-salute and inspected a guard of honor.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa told journalists at the airport that Mr. Xi’s visit will play a crucial role in reviving Zimbabwe’s economy.
He said Zimbabwe’s priority is on power and energy generation as the economy cannot be revived if energy shortages continue.
With the Chinese already funding the Kariba South Power Station Extension, more power deals will be signed Tuesday.
Former Zimbabwean Ambassador to China and war veterans leader, Christopher Mutsvangwa, told journalists Mr. Xi’s visit shows how much the Chinese leader rates relations between the two countries.
China is Zimbabwe's biggest foreign investor, pumping in $600 million in 2013, according to Chinese ambassador to Harare Huang Ping.
The visit has raised hopes that China will help stabilize Zimbabwe's faltering economy.
Mr. Xi, who is accompanied by his wife and several businesspeople and representatives of his government, was expected to visit the National Heroes Acre before going to State House where the ‘mega deals’ are expected to be signed.
Mr. Xi is expected to leave for South Africa on Wednesday where he will attend the China-Africa Co-operations Summit in Johannesburg.