Walter Nyamukondiwa–Mashonaland West Bureau Chief
Zimbabwe has joined China in celebrating its New Year amid calls for continued cooperation in promoting inclusive economic development, peace and stability in the world.
The Chinese New Year, which is buffeted by the Spring Festival, typically lasting about 15 days denotes the beginning of the year in line with the traditional Chinese Lunar Calender.
Steeped in traditions dating back to around 3 000 years ago, the period is characterised by cultural festivities, food and displays.
This year, the Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe organised the Happy New Year Gala at the Celebration Centre in Harare which brought together Chinese citizen living in Zimbabwe, Chinese Embassy staff, Zimbabwe Government officials and people from all walks of life.
Chinese Ambassador Zhou Ding said 2023 saw China-Zimbabwe relations soaring to new heights.
“We have seen a bumper harvest of China-Zimbabwe relations in 2023 with the commissioning of Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, Hwange Power Station Units 7 and 8 together with the New Parliament Building among others which are contributing to social and economic development in Zimbabwe,” said Ambassador Zhou.
“We are two countries that are committed to promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the world as well as the global policy of universally beneficial and inclusive economic development, equal and fair multi-polar world.”
China and Zimbabwe, he said, were two “great countries” which learn from each other.
Trade between China and Zimbabwe grew by 29,9 percent to a record high of US$3.12 billion in 2023.
During that period Zimbabwe exported goods worth US$1.71bn to China while importing goods worth US$1.41bn giving Zimbabwe a trade surplus of US$307 million.
The feat was anchored on the back of an increase in export of minerals and tobacco to China.
Ambassador Zhou said China would continue to work to promote cultural linkages through facilitating cultural exchange programmes which had been stopped following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In future, he said, Zimbabwean artists would be invited to perform in China.
Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Kirsty Coventry said the two countries shared deep relations and a desire for mutual growth and prosperity.
“China and Zimbabwe share a very long history of cooperation and we look forward to growing together into the future,” she said.
“We need to work hard to keep that relationship intact so that future generations will also cherish our relationship and work to protect it.”
Minister Coventry said Beijing holds a special place in her heart after she won several medals in swimming at the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008.
She hailed the strong affinity to preserve Chinese culture, adding that Zimbabwe also valued its culture.
The Gala saw performances by groups and individuals from Henan Province in China who showcased Shaolin Kung fu, Chinese traditional songs from Xue Qing emphasising the beauty of friendship and collaboration.
There were also heart stopping magic performances.
The Chinese New Year of the Dragon, which starts with the coming of the new moon, is expected to start on February 10.According to the Chinese Horoscope, the Year of the Dragon is normally associated with luck, strength and good fortune.
The dragon is the embodiment of the Chinese spirit, influencing the weather.
The event was also attended by Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Barbara Rwodzi and her counterpart in the Ministry of Women’s Affairs Monica Mutsvangwa among others.