Mugabe in China

One country's brutal dictator is another's old and trusted friend. Or something like that.

China this week has welcomed Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe on an official visit, with the presumed next president of China calling Mugabe an old and trusted friend. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who expected to take over the presidency from Hu Jintao as China transitions its regimes in the next two years, met on Wednesday with the Zimbabwean leader, and official media said the pair had much to discuss.

Mugabe has been widely criticized for human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, and has aligned himself more closely in recent years on the growing Chinese investment in Africa and specifically in his own country. China and Zimbabwe are marking 25 years of official ties this year, and an ever-growing trade relationship in which China maintains the upper hand and a surplus.