China's Expanding Influence in Zimbabwe
International relations are extremely important for developing countries. Without support from abroad, funding infrastructure projects and economic development would be nearly impossible. This is exactly the case in Zimbabwe where government officials have turned to China for help. Recently, China has lent Zimbabwe $319 million to ease electricity shortages by expanding its Kariba hydropower station. Although this project will take an estimated four years to complete, it can have dramatic effects on the development of Zimbabwe and international relations in Africa.
At first, Zimbabwe looked to the United States and the European Union for funding. However, these Western powers withdrew from negotiations due to human right abuses in Zimbabwe. Therefore, this opened the door for China to provide Zimbabwe with the loans needed for the hydropower expansion. China has had a long-standing influence in the continent of Africa, yet recently African governments have resisted Chinese influence. Earlier this year, Chinese oil companies in West Africa faced resistance from local governments who claimed that the Chinese were violating environmental standards. This marked a significant trend in Africa as underdeveloped countries of the region began to seek more control over the economic resources of their countries.
Despite the resistance in other African countries, Zimbabwe is dependent on China for its electricity expansion. Reducing power outages is extremely important for economic growth in the region and as of now, China will continue to play a significant role in the development of Zimbabwe’s economy. In the future, it will be very interesting to see if other countries join China and look to aid in the development of Zimbabwe.