China is planning to set up a modern high-tech military base in the diamond-rich Marange fields, says a German-based website, Telescope News.
The news of the agreement to set up the first Chinese military airbase in Africa comes amid increasing bilateral cooperation between Zimbabwe and China – notably in mining, agriculture and preferential trade. China is the only country exempted from the indigenisation laws which force all foreign investors to cede 51% of their shareholding to carefully selected indigenous Zimbabweans. The Marange story quoted unnamed military officials and a diplomat admitting knowledge of the plan to set up the base.
China is Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner after South Africa and has strategic economic interests in many African countries to guarantee raw materials, job sources and markets for its large population.
The new Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Lin Lin, recently said trade between the two countries last year exceeded the US$1-billion. Yet Zimbabwe is only 26th on the list of China’s 58 biggest African trading partners.