Bulawayo City Council is set for a twinning arrangement with the Chinese city of Zhaoyuan Tangerang Selatan in a move envisaged to attract investment to the country’s second largest city.

The city’s once busy industrial area now resembles a ghost town after many companies closed shop, or relocated elsewhere in the face of a serious economic crisis.

A number of premises have been occupied by different churches, and at one time the Macro Economic Planning and Investment ministry said this should be turned around with investment from the Asian giant.

The ministry also organised a visit to Zhaoyuan for an investment promotion exercise in 2016. Latest council minutes show that city fathers are still pursuing the twinning arrangement with the Chinese city.

“The town clerk (Christopher Dube) reported that the cities of Bulawayo and Zhaoyuan were in discussion to establish a common platform for engagement on various issues affecting them.

“A draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been developed and agreed upon by officials from the two cities. This was more of a twinning arrangement…the agreements at this stage should concentrate on city to city agreements,” the minutes reads in part.

China has emerged as the country’s major trading partner in recent years following the adoption of the Look East policy.

The minutes add: “Of particular interest would be the establishment of an industrial park and Bulawayo Development Bank. Furthermore, it was anticipated that the co-operation of the two cities would promote the aims and objectives of Sino-Zimbabwean Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement.”

“Indeed Bulawayo as a special economic zone would need Chinese investors but their involvement should follow due process and regulations.”

Bulawayo currently has a twinning arrangement with Aberdeen in Scotland, Durban and Polokwane in South Africa and Katima Mulilo in Namibia.

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