China's military met with Zimbabwe army chief before coup


China's military met with Zimbabwe army chief before coup

China said on Thursday that its "friendly policy" toward Zimbabwe would not change, after the military said it had seized power and was holding President Robert Mugabe and his family safe while targeting "criminals".

Among the graduands was Marry Chiwenga, the wife of Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander, General Constantino Chiwenga, who earned a degree in English and Communication. He met Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan in what China termed as a normal military exchange between the two countries.

According to a defence ministry report, Li told Chiwenga: "China and Zimbabwe are all-weather friends".

In the opinion piece, Wang said a change of government could be beneficial to China Zimbabwe relations.

Cobus Van Staden, senior researcher on foreign policy at the South African Institute of International Affairs, told CNN that the issue of whether China knew in advance of the military takeover in Zimbabwe was a "billion dollar question". We sincerely hope that Zimbabwe could maintain political stability and the relevant issues be resolved peacefully and properly. Below we reproduce reactions from the Chinese government, which has been accused in some quarters of complicity. Like so many other African liberation struggles, China provided arms, training and its Maoist ideology to Robert Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union, today's ZANU-PF.

"China has played a positive and constructive role in Africa".

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"The fact there were these kind of visits to Beijing right before (the takeover) certainly seems indicative of something, but who knows what that was?" "China has become the second-largest trading partner with Zimbabwe and has invested very largely in the country", Wang said.

In 2015 alone, Chinese investment topped $450 million, accounting for more than half of all foreign investment into Zimbabwe.

The military ties between the two countries extend beyond mere exchanges, however. Chinese state-run firms have helped build the $100-million Zimbabwe National Defence College and leaked U.S. diplomatic cables showed the Zimbabwean government had purchased military hardware such as aircraft, armaments and air defence radars from China since 1980. According to the online paper, the Zimbabwe Independent, former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa - who was sacked and fled the country a week ago, only to return after the military takeover - was approached on the topic during a visit to Beijing as early as June 2015.

Another aspect that has fueled speculation that China might have known about the coup is the visit of General Constantino Chiwenga on Friday, 10 November.

Asked if Chiwenga had briefed China on coup plans, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang would not discuss specifics. "Since the defence ministry hosted him, I don't have other details".

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