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Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong Heads to Harare

FILE: Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe and President Xi Jinping of China when the latter visited Zimbabwe a year ago.

Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong heads to Harare Wednesday for a two-day visit.

China’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said the visit follows an invitation by the Zimbabwe government. Chen will be the first high-level Chinese official to visit since President Robert Mugabe resigned.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the two countries have had strong and friendly relations for 37 years. He said their cooperation has “brought real benefits for the people of the two countries.”

Although its relationship with Zimbabwe began under former President Mugabe, Beijing has congratulated his successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, following his inauguration last week.

China, one of Zimbabwe’s largest trading partners, has said it is up to Zimbabweans to choose their government. Beijing has pledged to continue the relationship under the new government.

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