Home » General » China-Zimbabwe Relations – a Model of China-Africa Relations? [document]

SAIIA Occasional Paper No 205, November 2014

Global Powers and Africa Programme

There are two parallel interpretations of the relationship between China and Zimbabwe: on the one hand, it is often viewed as a microcosm of China-Africa relations due to its economic and resource elements on the other, it is portrayed as an example of China’s support for a ‘pariah regime’ without any consideration of human rights and good governance.

However, this paper argues that the China-Zimbabwe relationship is neither of these, but rather a possible model for China-Africa relations as a whole. Driven by the ‘Look East’ policy on the Zimbabwean side and the engaging policy supported by the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation on the Chinese side, this relationship has its own dynamic, development path and implications.

Through a historical review, the paper looks at the current political, security and economic engagements between China and Zimbabwe, and concludes the following about their relationship: (1) it is unique in that it has a momentum driven by two elements, namely the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West and the re-engagement policy by China (2) it is balanced internally among different pillars, especially the political and economic pillars and (3) it has great potential to be a pioneer for China-Africa relations as a whole.

However, it is important to point out the obstacles ahead, which calls for both parties to reverse the negatively motivated and balanced relationship to a positive one.

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Source : South African Institute of International Affairs