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By H.E. Mr. REN Yisheng, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Republic of Liberia
Warm greetings to the Liberian people
As the new Chinese Ambassador to Liberia, I would like to convey to the Liberian people the sincere greetings and best wishes of the 1.4 billion Chinese people! Warm congratulations to the Liberian government and people on your 173rd Independence Day observed last month.
I have been engaging in diplomatic work for more than 30 years. Most of my time has been spent in multilateral diplomacy, such as human rights, humanitarian affairs, social development, UN specialized agencies, UN administration and budget management. I have been posted in Asia, Europe and North America respectively but this is my ever first posting in an African country. I feel greatly honored to have been appointed as the Chinese Ambassador to Liberia. Somehow, I have some indissoluble bond with Liberia.
In July and August 2011, as a counsellor of the Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations, I participated in a study tour of UN peacekeeping and political special missions in four West African countries organized by the Fifth Committee of the UN General Assembly. The second stop of our visit was Liberia. I was deeply impressed by the beautiful scenery as well as the honesty and kindness of the people of Liberia. I was also proud of the peacekeeping personnel dispatched to Liberia by my country (over 10,000 peacekeeping personnel from 2003-2018). Through the visit, I gained a better understanding of the trauma caused by the civil wars and the challenges of the peacekeeping mission. During a visit to the Indian policewoman platoon near the Congo Town, UNMIL officers pointed at a compound with red-tiled buildings near the beach and told us that it was the Chinese Embassy in Liberia, one of the most beautiful yards in Monrovia. I have never expected that in a few years’ time, my wife and I could join my colleagues to work in the Chinese embassy here. And what makes me even more excited and encouraged are the new changes and development undertaking in Monrovia.
China and Africa enjoy a long history of friendship
China is the world’s largest developing country, while Africa is the continent with the largest number of developing countries. The high level and fruitful outcomes of China-Africa cooperation come from the common ground we share and are the result of our joint collaboration.
We share similar sufferings in struggling for independence in history. We share similar challenges in carrying out our national development programs. We share identical values of honesty, hardworking and kind-heartedness. We share common goals of promoting world peace, development and win-win cooperation. We share the same vision for multilateralism and greater democracy in international relations, where countries big or small and rich or poor are treated equally and with respect.
In recent years, the political mutual trust between China and Africa continues to deepen. China has established different types of partnership with 53 African countries. Since the inception of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2000, China-Africa cooperation has made remarkable achievements. China’s stock of various types of investment in Africa has exceeded 100 billion US dollars, and more than 3,000 enterprises have investment and operations in Africa. China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for more than a decade, one of the most important sources of external investment and financing in Africa, and the largest contributor to Africa’s transportation and power infrastructure construction.
China and Africa successfully held the Beijing Summit of FOCAC in 2018, which stands as a milestone in the history of China-Africa relations. Our leaders agreed at the Summit to synergize Belt and Road(B&R) on cooperation with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the development strategies of individual African countries. The eight major initiatives for China-Africa cooperation proposed during the Summit have drawn up a new blueprint for taking China-Africa relations to greater heights. Since then, both sides have been working together actively to follow through on the outcomes of the Summit, and have produced a number of satisfying “early harvests” bringing tangible benefits to the Chinese and African people.
China and Liberia look out for one another
China and Liberia are good friends, good partners and good brothers. Since the resumption of our diplomatic relations in 2003, with the wholehearted support of our two peoples and the international community, China-Liberia cooperation has been maintaining a good momentum. The Liberian government has firmly committed itself to the One-China Policy which has been passed into the Liberian law. We have maintained frequent high-level exchanges and strengthened mutual trust and confidence. In September 2018, H.E. President George Manneh Weah attended the FOCAC Beijing Summit and met with President Xi Jinping. The two presidents reached important consensus on further strengthening our comprehensive cooperative partnership. In May 2019, H.E. Nathaniel McGill, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, visited China and signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of B&R Initiatives (BRI) on behalf of the Liberian government.
Liberia is a country with rich natural resources and her people are hardworking. It has a huge potential for development and prosperity. On July 28 this year, Liberia became the newest member of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), highlighting the prominence Africa has in the bank and offering new opportunities for Liberia to cope with Covid-19 and achieve economic recovery. I am deeply impressed and encouraged by the high expectations of Liberian people on the China-Liberia collaboration. Notable progress has been made in business ties as well as people-to-people, cultural and military exchanges between the two countries. The concrete projects with regards to construction of roads, office buildings, and airport, as well as promotion of health care, education, sports, information, and agriculture etc., have brought about tangible benefits to our two countries and peoples. As affinity between the peoples is the very foundation of state-to-state relations, the tree of friendly relations between China and Liberia has its roots in the deepening friendship between our two peoples.
With the sound development in China-Liberia relations, governments and peoples of both countries have come to a common understanding that sustained and stable bilateral relations are in the fundamental interests of both countries.
Strive to build a community of public health
2020 is no doubt an extraordinary year in human history. As the most serious global public health emergency since the end of World War II, COVID-19 epidemic has hit over 210 countries and regions by surprise, affecting more than seven billion people around the world and claiming over tens of thousands of precious lives.
“A friend in need is a friend indeed.” Confronted with COVID-19, China and Africa have offered mutual support and fought hand in hand with each other. China will always remember the invaluable support African countries including Liberia gave us at the height of our battle with the coronavirus. In return, when Africa was struck by the virus, China was the first to rush in with assistance and has stood side by side with the African people.
In China, after making painstaking efforts and enormous sacrifice, we have turned the tide on the virus and protected the life and health of our people. All along, we have acted with openness, transparency and responsibility. We have provided information to WHO and relevant countries in a most timely fashion, releasing the genome sequence at the earliest possible time. More significantly, we have shared control and treatment experience with the world without reservation and done everything in our power to support and assist countries in need.
At the opening ceremony of the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19, President XI announced a series of measures to support Africa to fight the pandemic including providing supplies, sending expert teams, and facilitating Africa’s procurement of medical supplies in China, providing vaccines to Africa with priority and relieving the debt pressure of African countries.
Since March of 2020, massive medical supplies donated by the Chinese government, civil organizations and individuals have been distributed to over 50 African countries and regions including Liberia. Recently, Professor Peng Liyuan, wife of President Xi, positively responded to the assistance request from the Organization of African First Ladies for Development(OAFLAD) and donated a batch of medical supplies, including surgical masks and thermometers, showing firm support of the Chinese government and people in helping vulnerable groups such as women, children and teenagers in Liberia and other African countries fight the pandemic. These timely donations have helped alleviate the continent’s shortage of medical supplies.
On March 18, China held an online video conference with nearly 300 officials and healthcare specialists from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and 24 African countries including Liberia, sharing China’s experience and practices in epidemic control and clinical treatment. The Minister of Health of Liberia, H.E. Dr. Wilhemina Jallah was invited to attend the conference.
On July 27, the online signing ceremony of the China-aided Africa CDC (first phase) project implementation agreement was successfully held between the Ministry of Commerce of China (MOFCOM) and the African Union Commission, which marks another landmark of China-Africa friendship, solidarity and cooperation in the time of this disastrous pandemic.
China and Liberia have the tradition of looking out for one another by standing shoulder to shoulder. China was the first to help and support the Ebola-infected West African countries including Liberia. To date, the Chinese government has dispatched 13 medical teams totaling 132 doctors to provide Liberian people with free medical service. When China was hit by COVID-19, President George Weah sent a personal letter to President Xi Jinping, expressing his firm support for China’s fight against COVID-19.
The world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century. Given new opportunities and challenges we face, China and Africa should stand together more than ever. The development of China and Liberia as well as that of our bilateral relationship are also faced with tremendous opportunities. Despite all the difficulties and challenges posed by Covid-19, China’s economy is quickly recovering. We have enough confidence to win the victory of alleviating all our remaining population out of extreme poverty and build our country into a moderately prosperous society in all respects by the end of this year. We take note with interest of the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development advocated by President Weah and hope to exchange experiences and strengthen cooperation with the Liberian side on such issues as poverty reduction.
As China’s new Ambassador to Liberia, I will save no effort to deepen the exchanges and cooperation between our two countries and enhance the friendship between our two peoples. I strongly believe that, humanity will ultimately defeat the virus, and that the Chinese and African people are poised to embrace better days ahead. I am also convinced that under the guidance of President Xi and President Weah and with the joint efforts and contributions of our two countries and peoples, we can write a new chapter of China-Liberia friendly relations and all-sphere cooperation and bring more benefits to our peoples.