China’s President Xi Jinping on Monday hailed Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe – a pariah in the West – as a renowned African liberation leader and an “old friend” of the Chinese people.
The former guerrilla turned Africa’s longest-ruling leader, now 90, was on his 13th trip to China, seeking more Chinese investment in his nation’s stagnant economy.
“The traditional friendship between China and Zimbabwe was forged in the glorious years when we stood shoulder to shoulder against imperialism, colonialism and hegemony,” Xi told Mugabe – who is subject to sanctions by the US and European Union – at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
“The Chinese people value friendship and we will never forget those good friends and good brothers who have shown mutual understanding and support vis-a-vis China and who have come through thick and thin with us.”
The comments by the leader of the world’s second-largest economy were unusually effusive compared to the usual Chinese diplomatic formality. He also called the Zimbabwean president a “renowned leader of the African national liberation movement” and “an old friend of the Chinese people whom we respect very much”.