Mugabe’s exit will make Zimbabwe even closer to China, say Chinese analysts

A file picture of Zimbabwe’s likely new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa (left) standing behind Robert Mugabe. Photo: Associated Press

 

Man poised to take over as head of state has previous ties to Beijing and the need to open up the economy will create further opportunities for cooperation, say observers

Robert Mugabe’s resignation in Zimbabwe after 37 years in power is likely to bring the African nation even closer to China, according to Chinese analysts.

Former vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa is poised to take over as head of state after a military takeover finally forced Mugabe to quit.

China is already Zimbabwe’s fourth largest trading partner and its largest source of overseas investment, but these ties are likely to deepen under the new leadership if it attempts to open up the nation’s stricken economy, analysts said.

Mnangagwa also has ties with Beijing as he received military training in China during Zimbabwe’s fight for independence from colonial and white-majority rule.

The military takeover was sparked by the removal of Mnangagwa and fears within factions of the governing ZANU-PF party – particularly in the army – that Mugabe was attempting to make his wife Grace his successor.

The former vice-president received his military training in China in the 1960s and also attended the Beijing School of Ideology, run by the Chinese Communist Party.

Wang Hongyi, an expert at the Institute of West Asian and African Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Mnangagwa had a similar background to Mugabe in that he rose to power after fighting in the country’s struggle for independence.

Mnangagwa, however, appears less of a hardline nationalist in terms of his economic policies, according to Wang.

“Mnangagwa appears to be a more open-minded leader after he spoke openly against Mugabe’s nationalistic policies that have deterred foreign investment,” Wang said.

One example was his opposition to policies two years ago to make foreign firms sell stakes in their Zimbabwe ventures to local firms, said Wang.

Mnangagwa also told the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV two years ago that Zimbabwe was working on a massive economic reform programme and was looking to “create an investment environment which will attract the flow of capital”.

Full article: Mugabe’s exit will make Zimbabwe even closer to China, say Chinese analysts (South China Morning Post)

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