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Report on Zimbabwe elephants' nonsense'

By Mo Jingxi | China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-30 07:36

China rebutted a recent report that Zimbabwe had sent wild animals, including 35 elephant calves, to China to pay for a military debt, saying it is "sheer nonsense with an ulterior motive".

The Times newspaper in London reported on Monday that Grace Mugabe, wife of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, had sent safari animals to a Chinese wildlife park to pay for military uniforms for the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"I want to emphasize that this is a normal commercial activity, which is in line with relevant international conventions and laws in both countries" Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news conference on Thursday.

Hua said that wildlife parks in Shanghai, Beijing and Hangzhou recently imported a total of 35 African elephants from Zimbabwe. Payments have been received by Zimbabwean authorities, and the money will be used for the African country's wildlife protection, Hua said.

"It is an international practice for zoos to import foreign safari animals. The technical conditions of Chinese animal parks have met international demands and the parks can take care of the African elephants," she added.

An anonymous Chinese staff member directly involved in the transaction told China Radio International that "all the payments have been brought into the accounts of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and national parks".

He also said Zimbabwe's environmental protection minister inspected the wildlife parks in Shanghai and Hangzhou in January and assessed the conditions of elephants that had been import-ed earlier to Guangzhou.

Li Wentao, an expert on African studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said the report unfairly speculated about normal China-Zimbabwe trade ties when Zimbabwe is suffering economic difficulties. "The two countries are good partners with close cooperation, and China has been providing economic assistance to the African country. However, this is no reason to make such speculation," he said.

He Wenping, a researcher at the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the misleading report shows the Western media's longtime prejudice against China-Africa cooperation.

"Anyone with commonsense will know such a report is ridiculous. Every country could have ups and downs, and China and African countries have a consensus on overcoming difficulties together," she said.

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