Zimbabwe's military takeover has caught the attention of the world - but could China have known about the coup?
Among the graduands was Marry Chiwenga, the wife of Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander, General Constantino Chiwenga, who earned a degree in English and Communication. First Lady Grace Mugabe has not been seen since the army occupied their home three days ago.
General Constantino Chiwenga, Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, addresses a media conference held at the Zimbabwean Army Headquarters on November 13, 2017 in Harare.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a press briefing last week that the visit was just a "normal military-to-military exchange" which had been planned in advance.
China, which owns many assets in Zimbabwe, may have been nervous following the introduction of an "indigenization" law that would have allowed the Zimbabwean government to seize foreign-owned assets in the country, according to the report.
The Beijing connection: Did China know in advance about Zimbabwe coup?
"Above all else [China] wants stability, and a coup is a recipe for instability". "Something like this is always going to be held in secret talks. China has become the second largest trading partner with Zimbabwe and has invested very largely in the country", said Wang Xinsong, associate professor at Beijing Normal University School of Social Development and Public Policy. "China always supports the regime in power, unconditionally, whether it has been elected or not".
Mugabe's appearance at the graduation took many by surprise with political analysts failing to understand the house arrest conditions Mugabe is being put under by the army.
While Zanu PF structures across the country were meeting to recall Mugabe, the 93-year-old leader capped the ZOU students in the absence of his embattled Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo, who is reportedly holed up at his Blue Roof residence after escaping a military dragnet on Tuesday night.
During Chiwenga's trip to China, he met with Central Military Commission member Gen. Li Zuocheng, according to a Chinese military press release, who told him Zimbabwe and China were "all-weather friends". China also invested heavily in Zimbabwe and was involved in the construction of a thermal power plant and military facilities, as well as in plans for a new parliament building. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the country in 2015, reaffirming "deep and firm" friendship between the two nations and pledging $4 billion in investment deals.
In the opinion piece, Wang said a change of government could be beneficial to China Zimbabwe relations. In that year, China vetoed a proposed Western-backed United Nations resolution which would have imposed an arms embargo on Zimbabwe and financial and travel restrictions on Mugabe and 13 other officials, saying it would "complicate", rather than ease, conflict.
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