Is Zimbabwe’s Economy Clenched In China’s Fist?
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]