Malawi President Peter Mutharika from Sunday will be visiting China for an official visit to advance his government’s ‘Look East’ foreign policy after being dumped by West on aid.
Mutharika’s takes the ‘Look East’ policy to Beijing to further trade deals to help rescue Malawi’s ailing economy, which is suffering the effects of an aid freeze by Western lenders following a growing scandal over government graft known as Cashgate which has been bedevilling the nation since 2005.
During the official visit, Nyasa Times understands that Mutharika and his delegation expect to strike a number of commercial and loan agreements in exchange for trade and mineral concessions.
Mutharika applauds the Chinese Government for playing a significant role in transforming Malawi’s socio-economic landscape since the establishment of diplomatic relations on 27th December, 2007.
The Malawi leader is on record saying he feels“ grateful “ that the Chinese have been investing in sanitation projects in Malawi, a critical social program for the public health, and the Chinese companies in the southern African impoverished nation are actively taking up their social responsibilities while engaging in economic activities in the country.
Malawi, which depends on mostly Western donors to bankroll most of its development programs, has benefitted a lot of infrastructure development with support of the Chinese – of course most on long term loans.
Mutharika, the brother of president Bingu wa Mutharika, who died in office in April 2012, declared that Malawi will look for “new friends” in countries such as Russia and China – nations who care less on issues of human rights and governance.
Notable projects that China has helped Malawi include the New Parliament building, Karonga-Chitipa –Road and Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) with a 80 million U.S. dollars loan. The university has been operating since 2014.
Mutharika said China in last October provided his government a credit line of 25 million U.S. dollars in aid for which Lilongwe officials will propose a number of social projects, particularly the building of schools to tap the fund.
China recently pledged more support for Malawi in several areas including education, Health, Agriculture, Transport, Business and Telecommunication.
Chinese business people have established retail shops across Malawi mostly selling cheap electrical goods, clothes, blankets, toys and beauty products.
Many Malawians, however, complain that some Chinese products, were seen as unreliable with some people using the term ‘zhing zhong’, which derisively refers to the cheap Chinese good.
But some say people should not complain about the substandard goods because they are for not well-to-do while those that have money can go and buy things from expensive shops.
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