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Cablegate: Chinese Assistance to Zimbabwe

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (U) On March 22, Poloff met with Shaohua Duan, Third
Secretary (Economic and Commercial) of the Embassy of the

People's Republic of China to discuss Chinese humanitarian
assistance to Zimbabwe. Duan, who arrived in July 2002, told
Poloff that Chinese assistance was limited by China's own
developing nation status and not the political and economic
crises afflicting Zimbabwe. In 2002, China donated 4500 MT
of maize and pledged US$500,000 cash for food purchases to
Zimbabwe after the UN appeal. Duan also indicated that China
provided interest free loans for Chinese-Zimbabwe joint
venture projects. He mentioned Zimbabwe Iron and Steel
Company as one which has received a commercial credit of
US$35 million. Duan also indicated that China provides
assistance on a smaller scale (e.g., a few computers or
Z$100,000) in response to individual Government ministry or
company requests for money and assistance. China also
provides technical courses on topics such as agricultural
techniques, computer software, and aquaculture for which the
Chinese government provides room and board in China for
selected participants. Overall China-Zimbabwe trade was
US$190 million in 2003.

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2. (SBU) China's modest engagement here is magnified by the
GOZ, which publicly counts China as one of its most important
friends in the global community. China's special position
here has historical roots in China's support of ZANU-PF's
Mozambique-based insurgency before independence (the USSR
supported rival ZANU's Zambia-based insurgency). In
trumpeting the purported success of the GOZ's "Look East"
foreign policy, the official media frequently showcases
evidence of Chinese-Zimbabwean fraternity. Chinese are
uniformly portrayed as caring for the welfare of Zimbabweans
and in solidarity with Zimbabwe against neo-colonial
imperialist aggressors. A recent Chinese-hosted social event
attracting an array of cabinet members and prominent ruling
party officials testified to the importance attached by the
GOZ to the bilateral relationship.

3. (SBU) At the root of Zimbabwe's humanitarian and economic
crises is a political crisis. Presumably China will only be
able to realize any advantage from its inside track with
Zimbabwe if Zimbabwe's economic implosion is arrested and
international confidence is restored -- circumstances that
hinge on resolution of the country's political crisis.
Accordingly, to the extent that Zimbabwe is addressed at the
U.S. China Humanitarian Assistance Dialogue next month, it
may be useful to urge China to use its influence quietly to
nudge the GOZ toward inter-party dialogue with the opposition
-- a first step toward national reconstruction that would be
in U.S. and Chinese interests.

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