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Zimbabwe, Chinese Leaders Meet in Beijing

Zimbabwe's president is in China meeting senior officials to discuss economic cooperation and other issues.

Chinese President Hu Jintao gave a warm welcome to Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe at the beginning of their meeting in Beijing.

Mr. Mugabe is discussing economic ties and other issues with China at a time when Zimbabwe is increasingly isolated from Western countries.

In a written statement, China's Foreign Ministry said it does not interfere in other countries' internal affairs and "trusts Zimbabwe's government to handle its own matters."

Warm relations with China are an important part of Zimbabwe's "Look East" policy aimed at improving ties with Asian countries.

Drew Thompson, an analyst on China-Africa relations at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., says China's strategy of not criticizing Zimbabwe's alleged human rights abuses has paid off.

"The Chinese have weathered that storm. And, as the foreign organizations that previously cooperated, and invested, and worked in Zimbabwe…as they have pulled out China has remained," he said.

Mr. Thompson says Zimbabwe needs some serious help with its economy.

"The economy in Zimbabwe is collapsing," he added. "Unemployment is more than half of the population. There is massive poverty. There is a serious food crisis. And, inflation is soaring at incredible rates."

Critics say Mr. Mugabe's policies are to blame for the country's economic problems, including triple-digit inflation and an estimated 70 percent unemployment rate.