TEXT OF STORY
Steve Chiotakis: Akio Toyoda continues on his whirlwind PR tour. The Toyota president is now trying to win support after mass vehicle recalls — in China.
There’s another big visitor in Beijing as well. Zimbabwe’s top foreign diplomat is there, representing President Robert Mugabe’s repressive regime. China is one of the few countries left where Zimbabwe’s delegation gets a warm welcome. From Shanghai, here’s Marketplace’s Scott Tong.
Scott Tong: Beijing buys resources like gold, diamonds and coal from Zimbabwe, and in return has pledged more than $25 billion in loans.
China scholar Bates Gill at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute says Mugabe and China go way back, to pre-Zimbabwe in the 70s.
Bates Gill: Back to the days when he was a revolutionary in Rhodesia. So these ties are sustained today through diplomatic and trade relationships.
Critics blast China, though, for selling weapons to Mugabe’s regime and protecting it from U.N. sanctions. But recent signals suggest ties are getting strained. In January, China warned Zimbabwe to pay its debts, or no more loans.
Gill: It could be that a country like Zimbabwe has proven to be something of a burr under the saddle.
Zimbabwe leaders say China’s message was clear: “We are business partners. Not friends.”
In Shanghai, I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.
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