China’s economic clout in various African nations has been widely reported in recent years. But according to this Christian Science Monitor article, China is also exerting a powerful political influence in countries such as Zimbabwe:
China is increasingly making its presence felt on the continent – from building roads in Kenya and Rwanda to increasing trade with Uganda and South Africa. But critics say its involvement in politics could help prop up questionable regimes, like Mr. Mugabe’s increasingly autocratic 25-year reign.
“Suffering under the effects of international isolation, Zimbabwe has looked to new partners, including China, who won’t attach conditions, such as economic and political reform” to their support, says a Western diplomat here. Of China’s influence on this week’s elections, he adds, “I find it hard to believe the Chinese would push hard for free and fair elections – it’s not the standard they’re known for.”
In November, China and Zimbabwe signed a number of economic and technical co-operation agreements, according to this article in China Daily. Earlier this month, BBC’s Africa Live had a special program examining the relationship between Africa and China. Listeners’ comments are posted here.