Robert Mugabe could give China its first colony

Robert Mugabe could give China its first colony, by Roger Boyes.

Zimbabwe may not have the oil that has made some African states interesting for China but it has copper, platinum and diamonds. What is more appealing for China as it seeks more nuance in its Africa strategy is its very vulnerability and isolation from the West.

With artful diplomacy and infusions of cash, China could make Zimbabwe into its first modern colony. If a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe became a success, it would not just cock a snook at Britain and the US but make the case for a Chinese model of development.

President Xi Jinping dropped by on Zimbabwe last December, promising multibillion-dollar investments. Xi made clear that China was bonded to Mugabe by a shared revolutionary history …  Crucially, it became Mugabe’s largest arms supplier.

Xi’s subliminal message was thus: we will look after you and your own. If the going gets tough, no one else — certainly not Britain — will offer you refuge. …

The safety net goes further: the Chinese currency, the yuan, will be adopted as legal tender by Zimbabwe. And Beijing is writing off about $40 million of debt.

hat-tip Stephen Neil