THE Chinese government is exasperated at criticism by “smart” Zimbabweans who do not appreciate what the Asian economic behemoth is doing in the country.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Acting Chinese envoy Zhao Baogang on Thursday came out swinging after former Zanu PF MP and losing presidential candidate Daniel Shumba, claimed that China had deployed some 4 000 of its nationals in the Chiadzwa diamond fields before government shut down the companies.
“I think we have very good co-operation with Zimbabwe including in the diamond sector. You claim we deployed 4 000 Chinese in Marange, but that is a lie.
At most we deployed 100 people or 70 in that area and employed thousands. I know the company and will never allow such kind of exaggeration,” Zhao said.
The Chinese representative in Harare said the Asian country through its investments in Zimbabwe has provided “thousands” of jobs to locals.
He also reacted for the first time to claims that Chinese companies were involved in the plunder of Zimbabwean gems to the tune of $15 billion. Former President Robert Mugabe made the claim but later admitted this had been political banter.
“We must stick to the facts. There was no plunder in Chiadzwa, we have co-operation with the government. If there were any problems, they should be resolved with us, not refer to it as plunder. Government woke up and changed its policy shutting down the companies. This reduced production from 30 million carats to three million carats of diamonds. Those Chinese investors suffered loses.
“You have also continued to associate China with the $15 billion even when Mugabe himself has said it was a joke. You say we plundered it, but there is no evidence,” the ambassador said.
But Shumba was not done yet.
“You must understand that you are wrong, but China’s co-operation with the military never came to Parliament. The hard iron hand and financing of military equipment by China has not received parliamentary approval,” the retired top soldier said.
“Yes, the West has slapped Zimbabwe with sanctions, it’s wrong we don’t like it, but the country has invited the sanctions. But not putting sanctions on Zimbabwe does not translate into working in the best interests of the country.”
Regarding suggestions that China has been selling Zimbabwe “hot-air” as most of the so-called “mega-deals” have failed to get off the ground, Zhao said: “We are left wondering how people come to the conclusion that China does not have confidence in Mnangagwa’s government. If we did not have confidence in him, would we have immediately sent a special envoy to his inauguration and invited him to China?”