Chinese leader Xi Jinping welcomed in Zimbabwe
Published 01/12/2015 | 13:31
Thousands of people in Harare, Zimbabwe, have lined roads to welcomed Chinese president Xi Jinping.
Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe greeted Mr Xi at the airport, where he inspected a guard of honour.
Mr Xi is expected to address a joint press conference with Mr Mugabe after signing economic deals later on Tuesday.
China is Zimbabwe's biggest foreign investor, pumping in 600 million US dollars (£398 million) in 2013, according to Chinese ambassador to Harare, Huang Ping.
Mr Mugabe and Mr Xi are expected to sign several "mega deals," said Mr Ping.
Chinese nationals, Zimbabwean schoolchildren and people wearing shirts of Mr Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party held Zimbabwe and Chinese flags for up to six miles along the road to Harare International Airport.
Mr Xi is in Zimbabwe until Wednesday before heading to South Africa for a forum on cooperation between Africa and China as he works to strengthen ties with this continent that is a key supplier to Beijing of oil, minerals, tobacco and cotton.
China's growth in Africa has slowed over the past two years as the weakening Chinese economy demands fewer of Africa's resources, although overall trade topped 200 billion US dollars (£132 million) last year.
Mr Mugabe, whose country is struggling with mass company closures, high unemployment, low liquidity and foreign direct investment and food shortages, has said he and the Chinese leader will discuss "some of the projects and programmes we want China to assist us in undertaking."
China's imports from Zimbabwe include gold, diamonds, platinum, tobacco, nickel and chrome. China has invested in construction, energy and telecommunications projects in Zimbabwe.