Zimbabwe’s troubled national airline, Air Zimbabwe, could soon partner with a Chinese passenger carrier, the Zimbabwe Guardian has learnt.
President Mugabe is at the forefront of brokering a deal with Chinese airline, Hainani.
The president yesterday met a delegation from that airline to discuss possible ways of venturing into a partnership with troubled Air Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe’s ambassador to China, Frederick Shava expressed confidence of striking a deal with Hainani Airline, saying the airline has shown interest in operating in Zimbabwe.
The President also met the owners of Anjin Diamond – Chinese company licensed to mine diamonds in the country.
The meeting with the Chinese business people was also attended by the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Dr Joseph Made, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and government officials.
The president and all the officials are on a state visit to the eastern country.
President Mugabe and his delegation will conclude the state visit this Thursday.
Chinese state media reported that the Zimbabwe and China promised closer ties on infrastructure projects, agriculture, mining and trade.
But no details were given of any new deals that might have been signed.
Reuters news agency quoted Chinese official statistics as saying trade between the two countries was worth $717m in the first nine months of this year – a 62% rise compared with with the same period last year.
In March, China signed nearly $700 million in loan deals with Zimbabwe, and urged the government to protect Chinese firms from nationalisation plans.
China’s investments have been growing steadily in Zimbabwe and include diamond and chrome mining, platinum concessions, road construction, cotton and tobacco companies as well as a cement manufacturing plant.
Chinese vice-president Xi Jinping praised President Mugabe as an “old friend” of China and “a famed leader of the national liberation movement in Africa”.
“China is willing to join hands with Zimbabwe, enhance friendly exchanges, and expand practical cooperation,” Xi said after meeting with President Mugabe.
Chinese media reported that the two men agreed to deepen cooperation on projects related to infrastructure, agriculture, mining and trade.
Xi, who is likely to succeed Hu Jintao as China’s president in 2012, apparently is committed to increasing Beijing’s cooperation with African countries.