In Zimbabwe, the press is full of signs of China’s growing influence. There is talk of giant television screens being erected in Harare to transmit Chinese news. Mugabe has set up a Confucius Institute at Zimbabwe University and roofed his mansion with distinctive Chinese tiles. Two years ago a Chinese actress, Wendy Yang, was given a leading role in Zimbabwe’s longest-running soap opera, Studio 263. The yuan may become an official currency. It’s not that China’s money is single-handedly reviving Zimbabwe, but that its willingness to do business (and sell weapons) makes a mockery of attempted Western sanctions. Zimbabwe’s options are not simply Western-style freedom or penury. The Beijing model of “state capitalism” is available as well, and it pays.
A country that was previously unable to borrow can now offer its nickel, diamond and gold mines as collateral. A recent report from the Cato Institute estimates that Zimbabwe’s ability to borrow once again has allowed public spending to soar tenfold – leading to deficits so jaw-droppingly large that they almost approach British levels. Half of state spending goes to the chosen few who work for the government. The new wealth is shoring up a regime designed to outlive the elderly President.[Source]