Chinese Developments a Memoir of Ambassador Zhang’s Time in Liberia

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Chinese Amb. Zhang Yue .jpg
Chinese Amb. Zhang Yue

He is to depart Liberia very soon, perhaps at the end of the month, after the inauguration of President-elect George Weah. Ambassador Zhang Yue on January 6 announced his departure from Liberia at the occasion that marked the dedication of the Liberia-China Wushu School & Gymnasium near the Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex.

Ambassador Zhang took over as Chinese Ambassador to Liberia on February 2, 2014, upon presenting his letters of credence to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

China and Liberia restored diplomatic relations following Liberia’s civil war and embarked on economic and social improvements that brought about the implementation of major projects in post-conflict Liberia, while the door was also opened for the Chinese to come to Liberia for business and other activities of interest.

The China-Liberia bilateral relation, like the China-Africa relation, focuses on mutual economic and social benefits, and for this relation to hold, Liberia especially has to abide by the One-China Policy that sees Taiwan as an integral part of China.

Arriving in Liberia with the intent to implement some projects in line with Liberia’s needs, Ambassador Zhang was like all of us caught unawares in 2014 when the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) struck the country along with Guinea and Sierra Leone.

It was in this predicament that China became the first to provide US$1 million for Liberia to start fighting the disease. China under the ambassadorial stewardship of Zhang Yue sent one of its largest cargo planes filled with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), other medical equipment and materials for building treatment units. China also sent doctors and medical brigades from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army to fight the disease.

Amb. Zhang Yue watching performances of Kung Fu trainees

Following Ebola, China and Liberia signed multiple bilateral agreements among which China decided to build a ministerial complex that will host about nine ministries, annexes of the Capitol Building, renovate the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex and construct the Roberts International Airport (RIA) Terminal and renovate the runway.

The ministerial complex and annexes of the Capitol, according to Ambassador Zhang are expected to be dedicated by the end of 2018.

Observing the complex, one can deduce that the front view on Tubman Boulevard has reached its termination height. Work is seriously ongoing at the rear where another cluster of buildings is being constructed in addition to the ones at the front.

When completed, the ministerial complex will relieve the Liberian Government of being a tenant in its own country by renting private buildings for ministries and agencies which has, over the years become more of a rule than an exception.

The annexes of the Capitol Building, on the other hand, will create more office spaces for Legislators and other Capitol Building workers who have been clustered together in congested offices.

Ambassador Zhang’s tour of duty  in Liberia also witnessed the teaching of the Chinese language in the country resulting in many Liberians now being able to speak and write Madarin. Some officers of the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) and the Liberia National Police have also been taught the Chinese language to help them interact with Chinese nationals visiting and working in Liberia.

Many Liberian students have traveled to China on scholarships to earn graduate degrees in various disciplines. When the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) was scaling down its troops in 2016, China turned over hundreds of vehicles, medical equipment, and other military supplies to the Liberia National Police, the Armed Forces of Liberia, Liberia Immigration Service, and the Liberia Fire Service.

Ambassador Zhang has spent four years in Liberia and is to shortly depart for his country to perhaps take on another ambassadorial job elsewhere.

His time here has seen the China-Liberia bilateral relationship grow from strength to strength.

‘Xièxie,’ (謝謝) Ambassador Zhang! 

4 COMMENTS

  1. Ambassador Zhang’s departure closes a very successful, yet unsurprising, diplomatic tour considering the projection of President Xi Jimping’s announcement in 2014: “We should increase China’s soft power, give a good Chinese narrative, and better communicate China’s message to the world”.

    And according to a 2013 book “China Goes Global: The Partial Power” written by Professor of Political Science & International Affairs and Director of the China Policy Program at George Washinton University David Shambaugh, that wasn’t idle boast either:

    China is backing up its soft – power ventures with serious money; $50 billion for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, $41 billion for the New Development Bank, $40 billion for the Silk Road Economic Belt, and $25 billion for the Maritime Silk Road. Beijing has also pledged to invest $1.41 trillion worldwide by 2025. This scale of investment is unprecedented. Even during the Cold War, the US and Soviet Union didn’t spend as much, and neither did the Marshall Plan cost the equivalent of $600 billion in today’s money.

    A cynic might say that Liberia can’t depend on handouts. And my retort would be, any start-up enterprise could do with some seed money. After all, the world revolves around sensible debts; that’s why the US government owes her citizens and foreigners. Furthermore, at a time when the Trump administration is moving towards isolationism, and penny – pinching abroad, Liberia should be grateful to China, EU, Japan, and others.

    Congratulations, Ambassador Zhang, for a successful and memorable diplomatic tour, and long live Chinese – Liberian bilateral relationship.

  2. By the the time the Chinese are
    done with us, the etire African Continent will be DESERT. We are doing a lot more for China; than China is doing for us; Africans. Africa is the source of JOBS for millions of Chinese. Imagine a China without Africa’s Natural Resources. The affect would devastating. Millions in China would be instantly unemployed. It’s about time, we get our fair shares of the JOBS; we are creating for other Nations; China, Japan, Korea… We(Africans) too, must make things that we can sell to other Nations. For us in Liberia, let’s start by turning our RUBBER into good quality “Industry Strength Garbage Disposal Containers”. Start from little and grow up. Many of today’s large Corporations started from Grassroots-Street Levels. No Excuses! Let’s start working on it now…

  3. Is anyone saying that Africans shouldn’t manufacture things when Nigeria is doing that, and their scientists reportedly involved in robotics, etc.?

    What’s undeniable is that the Chinese and Japanese have stepped up while those who emptied the continent of resources and needed labor – beginning in the 16th century – are lagging behind. An old adage says, “If wishes were horses beggars would ride”. So until we become a manufacturing nation, nothing amiss in showing appreciation to those helping us!

  4. Mr. Henry Freeman is a comrade and more importantly, a prophet. I would be in a state of existential doubt if Mr. Freeman claims not to be a prophet. His prophecy is persuasive!

    Take a listen: “By the time the Chinese are done with us, the entire African continent will be desert”.

    Freeman is right. The Chinese are on a rampage. In my humble opinion, if “the do-nothing” dysfunctional African leaders of black Africa do not align themselves with reality, our continent will be resources empty in the near future.

    The Chinese are involved in many projects in Africa. Ten times out of ten, when they carry out a project, money talks while people walk. There will come a time to defray the money they are owed. If we, meaning black African states, are unable to pay back the billions we owe, we will become dependent on them in perpetuity. By that time, Africa will be a big old desert land.

    Ladies and gentlemen, let’s wake up to reality. During the late 1600s when the European Industrial revolution began, it spilled over in Africa by way of slave trade. Better ships were built, railroads were constructed in Europe and elsewhere, but not in Africa. Europe’s closest countries across the Mediterranean Sea and the Gilbratar are Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, etc. None of the well-built ships during that industrial era collected the Arabs, rather, the European slave traders found ways to get to what is now Mozambique, Angola and the horn of tropical West Africa.

    The Chinese are involved in a new kind of slave trade. The Chinese slave trade is unlike the Europeans. Of course, times have changed and these are modern times. Nonetheless, the present day Chinese slave trade is one that sells technology to black African states in return for our natural resources.

    I concur with Freeman. Africa could become a desert land someday.

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