A top Chinese defense official has accused Washington of being the mastermind behind a conspiracy to deprive Africa of peace and prosperity, and lauded anti-West dictators.
Speaking April 27 at a banquet in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, Lt Gen. Qi Jianguo, deputy chief of staff for the People's Liberation Army, launched a tirade against the United States and praised Zimbabwe's 90-year-old dictator, Robert Mugabe. Gen. Qi was the guest of honor for Gen. Constanine Chiwenga, chief of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF).
"General officers and men of China admire ZDF, especially your commander-in-chief, President Mugabe who has managed to stand against Western powers' machinations to destabilize the African continent," Gen. Qi was quoted as saying by Zimbabwe's daily newspaper, The Herald.
"Your president is one of the few leaders of the likes of Fidel Castro, Vladimir Putin and others who have stood against Western powers," Gen. Qi said. "Few leaders have the courage to stand against the United States of America and its allies."
Gen. Qi went on to relish Mr. Putin's aplomb in Crimea and President Obama's difficulty in dealing with the Russian strongman: "As you are aware on the issue of Crimea in Ukraine, President Putin managed to wrestle with Obama. I once told one USA general that they should not forget history where their attempts at Russia failed."
Gen. Qi was in Zimbabwe to sign a series of defense projects with the ZDF, including a $4.2 million "donation" handed over to Gen. Chiwenga.
As reported by Inside China on March 6, China is poised to establish military bases and strongholds in Africa, and Zimbabwe has been chosen as one of the first for Chinese outposts in Africa. A Chinese air force and radar base already has been operating in Zimbabwe's Marange region.
In addition, Beijing has built a National Defense University for Mr. Mugabe in Harare, costing more than $100 million. The military school is partially staffed by Chinese and Pakistani instructors.
ABE'S DIPLOMATIC END RUN
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month broke diplomatic protocol by holding an official meeting with the son of a former Chinese Communist Party chief in Tokyo.
Mr. Abe's April 8 meeting with Hu Deping, who holds no official title in China's government, took place amid Beijing's cut-off of high-level diplomatic communications with Tokyo, despite Japan's requests for resuming talks.
Mr. Hu is the eldest son of Hu Yaobang, the reform-minded former party chief whose death on April 15, 1989, helped trigger the largest protests in Chinese history — which ended with the Tiananmen Square massacre.
The elder Hu was liked by many Chinese reformers and some foreign leaders for his straightforwardness and push for a more open China. He was purged in 1987 by hard-line forces inside the Communist Party led by Deng Xiaoping, and he died in agony two years later.
Hu is remembered by many Japanese leaders as being reasonable when dealing with difficult issues.
Mr. Hu, the son, is not part of the Chinese government but is said to be close to Supreme Leader Xi Jinping.
The contents of the Abe-Hu meeting were not publicized, but it is no secret that Mr. Abe has wanted to convey a message to Mr. Xi for a bilateral summit to discuss the imbroglio over the Senkaku islands.
• Miles Yu's column appears Fridays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @Yu_Miles.