President Weah Wants More Chinese Factories in Liberia

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The Chinese Ambassador advised the Factory to conscientiously abide by Liberian laws, follow Liberian custom and practices, treat Liberian employees well and fully cooperate with the related Liberian authorities

— As Shangyou’s First US$30M Rubber Wood Company Operations Begin

In a very unprecedented routine, President George M. Weah, while cutting the ribbon for the formal dedication of the Shangyou Wood Industries Development (Liberia), expressed his support for the One-China Policy and wished that there be more factories from  the People’s Republic of China (PRC) constructed in Liberia.

The President dodged protocol and didn’t make remark during the allotted period, but instead allowed Foreign Minister Gbehzohngar Findley, to serve as a proxy. By such maneuver, many perceived that the political cheery-picking of the Foreign Minister to speak on behalf of government in the presence of the President, emitted signals of of the minister’s grooming as a potential running mate for Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) in the 2023 Presidential elections.

However, in his very brief remark, before cutting of the ribbon for the formal dedication of the Shangyou Wood Industries Development (Liberia), in Todee, Montserrado County District #1, the President said, he was grateful to have earlier dedicated an Indian Steel Company and now the Chinese Rubber Wood Industry.

At the dedication of the Shangyou Wood factory, Foreign Minister Gbehzohngar Findley spoke during the allotted time for President George M. Weah

“We bless God because, in less than two years, we have achieved this. I hope we will continue with this strive. We thank God for the partnership. We want more factories from China in the country. We cut this ribbon in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” President Weah said.

Prior, Foreign Minister Findley, praised China for the mutually beneficial China-Liberia collaborations. And he extended warm congratulations to the PRC and the Shangyou Rubber Wood Industry.

Chinese Ambassador Fu Jijun, in his special statement, said President George M. Weah attached importance to the establishment of the Factory of Shangyou Wood Industry and he lent his helping hand when the investor imported its necessary machinery.

“Industry plays an important role in a country’s development and prosperity. It can bring rapid economic growth through using raw materials to make higher valued products for the local and foreign market, creating jobs, using local public service, paying various fees and tax to government and feed back to local communities. I believed that is the reason why President George M. Weah has proposed to set up an industrial park in Liberia. This is also the reason why China has been attaching great importance to promoting industrial production collaboration with Africa.”

President Weah, the Chinese Ambassador, Reps. Wreh and Morris, along with the chairman of Shangyou Wood Factory cut the ribbon to dedicate the facility

The Chinese Ambassador added: “I have the honor to require the managing team of the Factory to conscientiously abide by Liberian laws, follow Liberian custom and practices, treat Liberian employees well and fully cooperate with the related Liberian authorities.”

He continued: “On the other hand, I have the honor to appeal to your excellency Mr. President, dear friends from the related authorities and the local communities of the factory, to continue your valued support to the investor and the managing team of the Factory. Since its success is also Liberia’s success, it will set a good example for encouraging more Chinese business men to invest in your loved country. Otherwise, it will discourage the potential investors form China to Liberia.”

The chairman of the Shangyou Wood Industries Development (Liberia) Limited said this is the first wood industry company under his industries and expressed gratitude to the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Industry and Labor, the National Investment Commission, the Liberia Revenue Authority, Immigration Service, Environmental Protection Agency as well as the Reps. Lawrence Morris of Montserrado District #1 and Margibi County District #3 Representative Ellen Attoh Wreh.

Amb. D. McKinley Thomas, Liberia’s Ambassador to China, earlier said Liberia is committed to the one-China policy and the country is in need of more Chinese companies.

Mr. Hong disclosed that the company has a total investment of 30 million (US) dollars.

“In the future, if the domestic situation and investment policies continue to improve, Shangyou will build a second and third Factory in Liberia,” he said.

The Chairman of the National Investment Commission (NIC), Molewuleh Gray, said the Chinese Shangyou Rubber Wood Processing Factory is benefiting from the regime’s special investment incentive as a way to spur investment since January 2018.

Representative Lawrence Morris advised residents of their districts against posing ‘security threat’ to the assets of the Shangyou Wood factory

Montserrado Country District #1 Representative Lawrence Morris, on behalf of the lawmakers from both Montserrado and Margibi counties respectively, said they are hopeful of direct employment of citizens from their districts. He also advised residents of their districts against posing ‘security threat’ to the factory’s assets.

He thanked the President for the investment opportunity, but urged the government to encourage more investors and should not discourage potential investors.

The Shangyou Rubber Wood Processing Industry was established in 2017 but construction works formally began 2018 and subsequently completed and dedicated on Tuesday, July 23, 2019. The factory is expected to employ at 450 Liberians.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Do they really know what they are signing and what Liberia will be getting in return? It is not only about building factories but also about the transfer of KnowHow so we can do it ourselves?

    Firestone, Bomi Hills, Nimba, Bong Mines, BF Goorich, etc didn’t leave anything when they left; country is empty? The workers from those areas are basically illiterate in modern skills, can not compete internationally, they are manual laborers?
    It should always be about the transfer of KnowHows so we can compete on the worldmarket?

    Note: You have high school dropouts negotiating and deciding for Liberia at the end of the day?

  2. While this is story appears to be a welcome news for the struggling economic of our Nation and those to be employed at this facility, the lack of clarity as it relates to what this contract entails, the scope of the investment and the special investment incentives given this company by the President, and what Liberia stand to gain, in-terms of knowledge transfer and royalty to Government were all lacking in this story. I would have expected that the reporter would have probe further to find some useful information regarding national interest, not limited to the type of wood production this company will be engaged.

    However, given the many history of lopsided contractual agreements the Liberian Government has signed with foreign entities over the years to the disadvantaged of our people and against the national interest of the Nation, the Weah’s Government must ensure the national interest of the Nation and people are protected in this and any future agreements. Honestly, without details of this agreement made available to Liberians at this critical time, it will be assumed that the leadership of President Weah has given another sweet deals to another foreign company to deplete our virgin woods and leave our Nation at the end of this contract.

    My hope is that this assumption will be wronged and President Weah will succeed, but the success of this President should not be at the detriment of our people and desperation of our Government to bring in any shady investment against the national interest of the Nation and people. Yes, we need investments, but those investments must contain measurable benefits to our suffering people and our crippling economic. As a people, we cannot continue to mortgage our natural resources for greed or to the detriment of our people. Agreements signed by our Government must represent the supreme interest of our Nation with maximum benefits to our people.

    And so, this brings me to these critical questions again: what was the investment incentives given this company by the President of Liberia? What does our Nation stand to benefit from this contract in-terms of royalty to our struggling economic? What are some of the corporate social responsibilities put in place and agreed upon to be brought to the operating locality of this entity? Was there a solid MOU signed by all parties with serious commitments made by this company to benefit our people? These inquiries are also extended to the Steel Manufacturing Contract signed a few days ago.

    My inquiries are based on facts that portions previous agreements between the Liberian Government and many multi-national companies, especially those areas that bothered on corporate social responsibility were considered, “Gentlemen Agreements.” There’s no such thing in law as “Gentlemen Agreement.

  3. The Chinese could play major roles in agriculture and renewable energy. Examples of these could be in the areas of rice and solar productions. We have the land and people. We need people train in these areas. Food Security will offset any other insecurities. Hopefully; the president and others closer to the president’s ears are listening.

  4. Are these dullards seen here capable of negotiating in the best interest of Liberia? I doubt whether they know what they are signing. “Only Philosophers must be Kings”(Plato). In other words, only wise men Plato believed, should lead.

  5. We need to remember that China is over populated, so when Chinese companies open businesses around the world, they bring in their own citizens to work in those companies. We need jobs for Liberians, not for Chinese. We do not need those factories if they are not going to hire Liberians. Look at the Chinese restaurants in town. How many Liberians you see working in them?

  6. The Long March, for A Bleeding Nation

    Mr. Vayow, you highlight a good point. Let the Chinese come, but our people should be employed by their firms. Not bringing in porters, daily labourers, and low entry work force. The goal is to employ more Liberian.

    Secondly, our government should be in the business of building well equipped university to adequately train our people to meet up with the demand of the labour force of the 21ist century.

    Someone mentioned of Bong Mines, Lamco, Firestone, etc. “Those companies came in with their trained men power”. Our government, in past and present had never been in business of training adequate standard human resources.
    Engineers, scientists, medical doctors…do not fall from the sky. The Indian CHANDRAYAAN ROCKET, the Chinese CHANG ZHENG or North Korean rockets, were not imported into those countries. They were all built by their own engineers who were trained by their various nations. Our so-called patriots, if their are any at all, which I doubt, make noise and put their fellow country men in the street for the sole purpose of getting in power to corrupt and bleed the nation.

    Until we can change our mind set, and begin to look at ourselves in the eyes of other emerging economy around the world. We are not doing any good for our unborn generations. The Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese and many other Asian nations were once upon a time colonised by imperial powers. Look at them today. “Long March”, proper planning, ” do it yourself ” attitude, visions, are the rules of the game.

    Liberian, sub Saharan Africa, let’s open our eyes.

  7. Mr. Bah,
    I do not know much about Firestone, however, Bong Mines and Lamco trained most of their technical staffs at their vocational training centers-( VTC). Some experts were brought into the country and those experts helped trained many Liberians on the job and many gained important knowledge transfer and were even promoted to Jr. and Sr. staff positions within those establishments. The Chinese could be helpful in developing our agriculture sector by helping farmers to improve their technical skills. There’s no free launch and so, we have to be very careful with Chinese investments in Liberia. They are very smart people whose national interest is at the core of their foreign investments.

    Unlike the Chinese who usually import most of their basic workers, those companies you mentioned-Bong Mines and Lamco were very instrumental in providing valuable knowledge transfer to Liberian employees. Additionally, Liberians must be concerned about the influx of Chinese in Liberia given our small population. This is why it’s important for the Liberian Government to carefully evaluate and negotiate proposals from the Chinese with a higher level of sophistication. The Chinese are notorious for flooding African nations with their over populated people. Currently, there are a few nations in Africa with huge Chinese presence, to the extent that they have developed their own police force in those nations.

    • I agreed with you Tony Leewaye. Bong Mines and LAMCO first brought in their own people but then we had the Liberianization policy which meant training Liberians to take over from those expats. So those two companies opened vocational schools or sent Liberians abroad to be trained and those Liberians with their new technical know-how took over from the expats. My own grandfather with an 8th grade education was trained by LAMCO in Book-Keeping. He became LAMCO’s Cashier in Buchanan – a senior staff position. There were a lot of Liberians in senior positions at LAMCO and Bong Mines. Liberians are now in management positions at Firestone, LAC and I heard at Arcellor Mittal but those at Arcelor Mittal are low paid.

      As for the Chinese, they’ve proven in other countries with their investments that they would only hire local sweepers, but everyone else would be from China. That’s not the way to do investment. That is not economic development. That’s not the transfer of knowledge. I heard the Indians are doing the same in Liberia as well at Arcelor Mittal. I heard in 2005, the owners of LAMCO wanted to come back and take over their former company, but the government under Gyude Bryant wanted bribes from them.

      The Owners said no, so the mines were given to AML because the Indians were willing to bribe. During the renegotiation process under Ellen, the CEO of AM flew in and bought brand new pick-ups for every Senator and Representative in Liberia. Now go to Yekepa and Buchanan and see AML operations for yourself and you would know and see what corruption does to a country. Just for a brown envelope, our people are now subject to abuse.

      China Union got Bong Mines as well under corruption too. Go to Bong Mines and see what’s happening there. Even the porters of China Union are from China. How is this a good investment for Liberia? This is what happens when you elect people who only purpose is to steal.

    • tonyleewaye2013 – Like President Weah said recently, “we need to mix up.” What he means is we need to welcome foreigners into our country and allow them to become Liberian citizens if they decide to make Liberia their home. I strongly support that policy and we should embrace it. It makes a lot of sense because we’re not able to develop this little country on our own because we don’t have the means, etc. So it’s time to mix it up in the words of President Weah. Yes, some people have concerns about integrating non-black people into our country but that integration has already started long ago and there are no issues as I can tell. The Lebanese, Indians, and now the Chinese live in peace with our people. There are no conflicts whatsoever. When people immigrate to a country they bring money, culture, knowledge, etc. and that’s all good for building a great society. We stand to benefit a lot by being a multicultural society. Like President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “there is nothing to fear but fear itself.” We should not be afraid…

  8. Mr. Chris Luke and Mr. Tony Leeway,
    I got both of you gentlemen points.
    I m the kind that hit for the sky. One good think that one of you mentioned: ‘no free lunch’. Training an individual to acquire a vocational skill, is very excellent. It should be the responsibility of the government to impact knowledge in the citizen to enable them to improve the standard of living.

    My cry is not with the foreign investors, but with the government, past and present. One invests to acquire profit. If you read my post, you will find out that I mentioned and highligted Liberian employment opportunities. I m against Chinese, or any other investors bringing in entire manpower from over sea to stop our people from being employed. Our policy makers and negotiators should not compromise that for any reason. On the other hand, vocational knowledge acquired, cannot run a multinational company like Bong Mines, Lamco , LMC etc. Vocational training part of the work force, however; the technical know how, is not deep.

    The Chinese, Indian, Maylasian, Korean Engineers, were all trained in their various countries. A lots of these guys do not even speak english, and yet, they built rockets that go up into space. Our government should invest in quality education. Not leaving our people to strive at the mercy of ‘foreign investors’. I went to school in Australia. The little common sense I acquired, I can make my contribution to Liberia. We ( Africa south of the Sahara), unless Liberia, Asia and Latin America went under the heavy hand of Imperialism and Colonization. Can we match up with them now? No! Our educational system is non-standard.
    We have to learn to set our priority straight, folks.

  9. Unfortunately, we should not be surprised by President Weah’s “mis-steps”. He simply is ill- prepared for the presidency. But he was elected by mostly the “illiterate majority ” who themselves didn’t know better. Our president needs a lot of “hand holding ” but in an effective way that can produce “positive results ” . I’m wondering if our our legislators get “a pass” on neglecting their duties. Apparently so, when the ” Save-the- state ” included legislators in petitioning President Weah. Don’t they bear responsibility as well? Shouldn’t they be petitioned as well? They represent the people and have constitutional responsibilities to that end. Let’s not scapegoat President Weah and make him the “bad guy”. Sure he has to account to the people but the legislature CERTAINLY does as the “People’s House “.
    Yes, those elected officials may be “poorly qualified ” but they must work along with the president to do a better job, investigate themselves and the president and entertain “sound policies ideas” from those demonstrating, exercising their constitutional rightds.

    How about the hundreds of millions of dollars of retirement money or willingness to do business of our fellow Liberians abroad. Those born and raised in Liberia who are denied Liberian citizenship? It doesn’t makes sense when foreigners are encouraged to invest

  10. Portugal, Panama, Mexico , Colombia, Slovenia and other central American & eastern European countries are offering retiring Americans permanent residency to citizenship if they move to live in their countries. Liberian who are Americans have that option to have their retirement dollars go further in those countries and enjoy a higher quality of life. Other African countries are offering incentives to those natural born citizens who have foreign citizenship to “come home” and invest, bought homes,start businesses, etc. We’re missing our opportunity to do the same

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