FEATURE: Mutual Benefit and Common Development is the Biggest Feature of China-Africa and China-Liberia Cooperation
(By Chinese Ambassador to Liberia H.E.Ren Yisheng)
MONROVIA-In cooperation with Africa, China has upheld the principles of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith and the principles of pursuing the greater good and shared interests and China-Africa cooperation has become a model for South-South cooperation and international cooperation with Africa.
Today, the outcomes of China-Africa cooperation are all over the African continent. The roads, railways, airports, ports, high-rise buildings, stadiums and other structures that China helped build can be seen everywhere. According to preliminary statistics, between 2000 and 2020, China helped African countries build more than 13,000 kilometers of railways, nearly 100,000 kilometers of highways, about 1,000 bridges, nearly 100 ports and more than 80 large-scale power facilities, funded more than 130 medical facilities, 45 sports venues and more than 170 schools, trained more than 160,000 professionals across various fields and created more than 4.5 million jobs for Africa.
The biggest feature of China-Africa cooperation is mutual benefit and common development. China has always been committed to closely integrating Africa’s independent and sustainable development with its own development, and welcomes Africa to take the express train of China development and share its benefits.
Since the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2000 and the implementation of the “Belt and Road” Initiative (BRI) in 2013, China’s trade with and investment in Africa have increased by 20 times and 100 times respectively, and China has become Africa’s largest trading partner for 13 consecutive years. China has taken the initiative to provide zero-tariff treatment to 97% of the tax items exported to China from 33 least developed countries including Liberia in Africa, and has become Africa’s second largest export destination for agricultural products. Since 2017, China’s service imports from Africa have grown at an average annual rate of 20%, creating nearly 400,000 jobs for Africa each year. In emerging fields such as digital economy, aerospace, clean energy, and new infrastructure, China-Africa cooperation has also shown strong vitality.
In the face of the sudden outbreak of COVID-19, China and Africa have united and cooperated to overcome the difficulties together. More than 1,100 Chinese cooperation projects have continued to operate in Africa, and the overall implementation rate of the outcomes of the FOCAC Beijing Summit has exceeded 70%. China actively responded to the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) by suspending the payment of more than 1.3 billion US dollars of debt in 2020 alone, making it the largest contributor among G20 members.
China has signed debt suspension agreements or reached mutual understanding on debt suspension with 19 African countries. In the first 10 months of 2021, China-Africa trade volume exceeded the US$200 billion mark, a year-on-year increase of 37.5%, and China’s direct investment in Africa increased by 10% year-on-year, making outstanding contributions to the African economy’s resistance to the impact of the epidemic. China is the first country in the world to hold a summit with Africa on the response to the epidemic, and has provided 200 million doses of vaccines and 120 batches of emergency anti-epidemic supplies to Africa, and sent anti-epidemic medical expert teams to 17 African countries. China will provide another 1 billion doses of vaccines to Africa.
In the post-epidemic era, China will jointly implement the “Nine Programs” of the FOCAC with African countries, including China’s implementation of 80 key aid projects; expanding the scope of zero-tariff treatment products exported to China by African least developed countries, and striving to achieve a total import value of 300 billion US dollars from Africa in the next three years; establishing a “China-Africa Private Investment Promotion Platform” to promote Chinese enterprises’ total investment in Africa of not less than 10 billion US dollars in the next three years; supporting the construction of the African Continental Free Trade Area, etc. These tangible measures are in line with the most urgent development needs of African countries, and will certainly give new impetus to Africa’s post-pandemic economic recovery.
China-Liberia cooperation is an important part of China-Africa cooperation. China has carried out pragmatic cooperation with Liberia by following the right approach to greater good and shared interests and adhering to the principles of sincerity, real result, affinity and good faith, and has achieved a series of tangible results.
Since 2018, China’s BRI and Liberia’s “Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development” (PAPD) have achieved effective docking, and the outcomes have brought real benefits to both countries. China-aided projects such as the Ministerial Complex, two annexes to the Capitol Building, 50 bore wells for the rural schools, and the reconstruction and expansion of the new terminal of the Roberts International Airport with concessional loans were successfully completed. China has carried out several terms of technical assistance projects including bamboo and rattan weaving and vegetable planting, agricultural demonstration center, SKD stadium maintenance, Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) and mineral resources survey, and follow-up technical assistance projects will be implemented in succession.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 epidemic, China has successively provided 6 batches of anti-epidemic material assistance to Liberia. In 2020, China funded US$1 million to provide health and nutrition assistance to Liberia. Over the past three years, China has provided Liberia with approximately 2,500 tons of emergency food assistance each year, of which up to 2 million US dollars was funded in 2021. China has so far dispatched 14 batches of medical teams to assist Liberia, and in 2021 alone, 5,845 patients were diagnosed and treated. China provides Liberia with about 50 full scholarships, more than 150 short-term training opportunities and academic degree scholarship opportunities, and a hundred plus of “Chinese Ambassador Scholarships” every year to help cultivate Liberian talents. In terms of investment and cooperation, as of the first half of 2021, China’s direct investment stock in various industries in Liberia reached US$181 million. Chinese-funded enterprises have contracted most of the major infrastructure projects in Liberia, and about 10 major roads and other projects have completed or started construction in recent years.
At present, the Chinese side is proceeding in an orderly manner with the implementation of such China-aided projects as two Capital overpass bridges, the clinical diagnosis and treatment laboratory of the 14 Military Hospital, the LBS expansion and upgrade, and the Somalia-Sinkor Road and Bridge.The new China-Liberia Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement signed in 2021 is being implemented, and the Chinese grant assistance is a 50% increment compared with the previous phase. A number of material assistance projects, including police supplies, vehicles, and fingerprint comparison laboratory equipment, is progressing in an orderly manner. China will implement a zero-tariff policy on 98% of imported goods from Liberia. The two sides also seek to expand cooperation in areas such as agricultural modernization, industrialization development, green economy, telecommunications, electricity, and roads. China has become one of Liberia’s major development partners.
Practice has proved that China-Africa cooperation adheres to mutual benefit and win-win results, which has effectively improved Africa’s economic and social development conditions, and brought tangible benefits to the African and Liberian people, showing that China truly respects and helps Africa.
More and more African countries concur with China’s development model and are willing to deepen cooperation with China. African countries and people have also given China strong support for a long time. Whether China-Africa and China-Liberia cooperation is good or not, only the people of China, Africa and Liberia have the most say.
Entering the new era, China will continue to walk hand in hand with the African people, firmly follow the path of mutual benefit and common development, and deepen pragmatic cooperation in various fields with full play of the leading role of the FOCAC. China will vigorously implement the “Nine Programs” of the FOCAC by integrating the BRI, the Global Development Initiative (GDI), and the Global Security Initiative (GSI) closely with the AU Agenda 2063 and PAPD on the basis of equality and mutual respect, and jointly build a China-Africa and China-Liberia community with a shared future.