Why China’s Communists Back Mugabe’s Regime in Zimbabwe

June 30, 2008 Updated: February 28, 2016

China may have backed the U.N. resolution in late June to condemn the Zimbabwe vote but don’t be fooled by its recent facade. The Communist regime’s friendship with the Mugabe regime and its willingness to fly in the face of international pressure to arm dictatorial regimes may have thawed slightly only because of the Beijing Olympics that are less than two months away and any other move might spark more international outrage.

In fact, on June 29, China clearly indicated its unwillingness to support a United States call for a U.N. arms embargo on the Mugabe regime, and as a veto-wielding power, this move makes it impossible for the U.N. to move and take action on Zimbabwe as well as other similar dictatorial regimes.

This should not be surprising, given that as recently as April 2008, the Chinese regime’s shipment of arms to Zimbabwe was blocked by several of Zimbabwe’s neighbors over concern that the weapons may be used to strengthen the Mugabe regime and unleash a reign of terror on his opponents.

The arms shipment was sent shortly after Mugabe was reported to have lost an electoral recount against the opposition MDC.

After throwing a red herring several times by announcing that it would pull the ship back, the ship was finally rerouted and allowed to dock on Angola, which is known to back the Mugabe regime. It is believed that despite the international outcry over the ships, the arms were able to reach Mugabe’s regime through Angola.

Economic Ties

Zimbabwe’s ties with China date back to 1979, when Robert Mugabe’s quest for Soviet support for his party were rejected, resulting in his getting closer to the Communist regime in Beijing for funds and support.

The ties with China became especially important for the Mugabe regime after a 2003 standoff with the European Union which resulted in a financial squeeze and economic recession.

Much of Zimbabwe’s imports are expensive military equipment. A 2005 Jamestown Foundation report, titled “Zimbabwe: China’s African Ally” documents that in June 2004 alone, Zimbabwe’s purchase of 12 FC-1 fighters and 100 military vehicles were worth an estimated $240 million. The secret order, which was published in Zimbabwe’s state-run press, actually went above and beyond the $136 million defense budget.

And what has Zimbabwe lost? Trade with China is often conducted in barter programs, with Zimbabwe exporting raw metal such as platinum to feed China’s burgeoning appetite for raw materials. The Jamestown report documents that Zimbabwe “has the second largest deposits of platinum in the world, estimated at over $500 billion.”

An Epoch Times report has documented how African regimes, especially dictatorial regimes, are willing to sell their natural resources to the Chinese Communist regime in exchange for greater subservience to the CCP, support from the CCP and for arms for maintaining their regimes.

Mugabe’s regime seems to be no exception: it has seemed willing to exchange and lose these precious raw materials in exchange for expensive military toys that allow it to frighten dissenters and continue to rule with an iron fist.

“Worst enemy” of Zimbabweans

On June 29, 2008, just days after Mugabe won an election that has been dubbed as a farce all around the world, China rolled out its latest turboprop regional aircraft to much fanfare.

Its biggest buyer? Zimbabwe.

With China’s economic clout, the world leaders have sounded outrage at the Zimbabwe crisis, but have shown very little spunk in dealing with it. On June 25, 2008, Australia’s The Age publication pulled Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to task for not being willing to bring up Zimbabwe crisis and exert pressure on China.

Given China’s close ties to the Mugabe regime, it is perhaps no surprise that Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has often said that he sees China’s Communist regime as “the worst enemy” of Zimbabweans.

Maybe Tsvangirai is on to something with that. The CCP’s support for dictatorial regimes is a relationship of mutual symbiosis—it aims to keep dictatorial regimes in power in exchange for their natural resources, and at the same time, it is able to build up international support from these regimes that their own people are opposed to.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.