China says Zimbabwe is not adequately exploiting opportunities it is presenting because officials in Harare are not adequately familiarising themselves with Beijing’s development documents.
China’s acting ambassador to Zimbabwe, Zhao Baogang, told editors during a briefing in Harare yesterday that Beijing’s multibillion dollar opportunities for Zimbabwe under the Belt and Road Initiative and the Forum for China-Africa Co-operation [FOCAC], were not being taken up by Harare.
He said each time he engaged Zimbabwean officials on the Belt and Road Initiative and FOCAC, it seemed the officials had not read the documents pertaining to the two programmes.
“I just want to stress that whether we are government officials, diplomats, or media people, we have to read the documents,” Baogang told editors who attended an event at the Chinese embassy in Harare.
China, the world’s second largest economy, has set aside $60 billion for development projects in Africa under the Belt and Road Initiative, and another $60 billion under FOCAC.
“I just give my constructive proposals and sincerely wish that everyone will come and read them,” the acting ambassador said.
“This is the blueprint for the development of relations between China and those countries on the Silk Road route. It is also the roadmap for relations with African countries. If you don’t read [the documents], you will not come up with very good projects.”
The acting ambassador added: “Under the Belt and Road Initiative, we have already established the AfriAsia Infrastructure Investment Bank, New Development Fund, and the Silk Road Fund. These are the financial tools. They are financial institutions. They have money and the capital.”
And, under FOCAC, there is the China Africa Development Fund, which offers special loans for the development of small and medium enterprises in Africa.
The ambassador said Zimbabweans were not exploiting this facility.
“Abundant resources are there and they are just waiting for you,” he said. “If you don’t make use of them, I feel it would be a pity that I will really regret. I hope we will do some research on the two documents adopted by the Forum for China-Africa Co-operation.”
The Chinese diplomat said he was aware of Zimbabwe’s urgent need for funding to accelerate the reconstruction of the country under President Emmerson Mnangagwa who is keen to rebuild it into a middle-income economy by 2030.
Zimbabwe is part of the Belt and Road Initiative, which involves a monumental US$1 trillion worth of planned investments to build railways, ports, and other infrastructure in 65 countries across three continents.