Occasional Paper

China and Zimbabwe: The Context and Contents of a Complex Relationship

“China’s relationship with Africa has been the subject of considerable interest and controversy. The general assumption that the continent is moving closer to China because of its generosity (in contrast with traditional Western partners) and the widespread allegation that China is using this new-found relationship to exploit Africa’s natural resources, are among the
issues that have dominated headlines. However, few of China’s relationships with African countries are of as much interest as the one it has with Zimbabwe. While China’s support for the Zimbabwe African National Union in the war of liberation played in its favour and gave the country a take-off advantage in the new Zimbabwe, the African country is using China’s economic and diplomatic backing to weather criticism of its domestic policies. This
paper takes a detailed look at Sino–Zimbabwean relations, examining how these have transformed over time, and concludes that the decades ahead are likely to be crucial for the relationship between the two countries, especially as Zimbabwe has to begin looking at a future without its aging president.”