Harare, Zimbabwe. 1st Dec, 2015. Chinese President Xi Jinping holds talks with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in Harare, Zimbabwe, Dec. 1, 2015. Credit: Huang Jingwen/Xinhua/Alamy Live News

China-Africa economic relations continue to grow in billion dollar city development

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Chinese investment group plans to build a $7 billion city for tourists in Zimbabwe

Seventeen Chinese billionaires representing Touchroad Group , a multinational investment firm, are preparing for a scouting trip in June. Their mission is to select the best location to build a tourism city in Zimbabwe.

Touchroad Group struck a deal with Zimbabwe in March to create an urban center bigger than Harare, the country’s capital. The estimated cost is $7 billion.

Plans for the city include hosting millions of Chinese tourists while establishing an industrial and trading center for the East Asian super power.

According to All Africa, the chief executive of Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, Karikoga Kaseke, said that “Chinese investors expressed a deep interest” in growing Zimbabwe’s tourism industry.

Zimbabwe’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa said at a political party meeting celebrating the sizable investment, “Zimbabwe should bury its past, move forward and focus on creating a bright future for all.”

Last November, the country saw its president for over 30 years step down. Robert Mugabe, ceded his power after a military coup backed by China, according to The Guardian.

In the months leading up to Mugabe stepping down, the Zimbabwe dollar plummeted. To worsen matters, stances against the Administration and critiques of the president’s wife, Grace Mugabe’s extravagant lifestyle in a country where most citizens are poor agricultural workers; could land a jail sentence. Or death.

Mugabe was the last of a line of African revolutionaries who fought European colonialism. Jailed and tortured for his efforts, Mugabe came into power in the 1980s. Up until several years ago, his efforts to direct resources to the black majority were recognized.

Once Zimbabwe gained its independence. It established diplomatic relations with China. In 2007, Mugabe announced a strategy to increase economic and political ties. A BBC report said that in a speech to Chinese investors visiting the country Mugabe announced, “We have turned east, where the sun rises, and given our back to the west, where the sun sets.”

Mugabe held a conference in China in 2012 to attract investors in a China-Africa economic relationship that has strengthened in the last 15 years.

Read China’s Ban on Social Media Platform

A New Silk Road

China has been positioning a stronghold in Africa since 2000. With major investments in 20 African countries, Sub-Sahara Africa is part of China’s global initiative to recreate trading routes like that of the old Arab-Asia Silk Road.

In Africa, China built a railway from Djibouti to Addis Ababa. Now, developers work on a line for Kenya with ambitions to travel as far south as the Democratic Republic of Congo. Already, in Angola, billions of dollars have gone to building highways and other infrastructure.

In 2012, China donated the building of the headquarters of Africa’s most powerful political organization, the African Union. In January, Quartz media reported that China had been hacking into the data servers nightly for years.

China denies the allegations, along with claims that the roads that have been built by migrant Chinese labor is subpar.

Zimbabwe is a regular exporter of agriculture, tobacco, elephants, gold, nickel and steel to China. As the country works to gain its footing after the recent change in power, China looks South to solidify new territory.

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Kaia Niambi Shivers covers diaspora, news and features.

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