Briefing from ROAPE Volume 32 Number 104/5
Re-enter the Dragon: China's New Mission in Africa
The day after the United Nations released a report condemning Robert Mugabe's government for demolishing 700,000 homes and businesses 'with indifference to human suffering',1 the Zimbabwean President flew to Beijing. He visited a car factory, signed a loan agreement and received an honorary professorship from the Foreign Affairs University for his 'remarkable contribution in the work of diplomacy and international relations.'2 The friendship between Mugabe and the Chinese dates back to the bush war in the 1970s, when China provided Mugabe's ZANLA guerillas with weapons and funding to fight white minority rule in Rhodesia. Now, however, China's interest has less to do with political solidarity and more with commercial opportunity, and its growing need for natural resources.