|Remarks by Chinese Ambassador to Liberia H.E. Ren Yisheng at the 70th Commencement Convocation of Booker Washington Institute|
(26 February 2022)
Hon. Jerry Vannie, Superintendent of Margibi County of the Republic of Liberia,
Distinguished representatives of the Ministry of Education and other ministries of the Republic of Liberia,
Distinguished mayor of Kakata City,
Distinguished Chairman of the Board of Governors of Booker Washington Institute (BWI),
Distinguished Atty. Harris Fomba Tarnue, Principal & EO, BWI,
Distinguished vice principals of BWI,
Distinguished representatives of administration, instructional staff,
BWI students and their parents,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning! Thank you for inviting me to this great event and serve as the Key Note Speaker. I recall with pleasure my last visit to your beautiful city Kakata last year when I attended the official opening of the Kakata Community Public Library and Science Laboratories. I wish to extend my warm greetings and best wishes to the people of Kakata City and the management, instructional staff and students of Booker Washington Institute. Commencement marks the beginning of a new stage of life. I sincerely congratulate all graduating students for having successfully accomplished your school and wish you all the best in your future endeavor!
Today, I would like to talk about 3 issues, namely China’s development, China-Africa and China-Liberia friendly cooperation, and last but not the least people-to-people exchanges and my advises to the students of BWI.
Ladies and gentlemen,
To begin with, please allow me to share with you some of the latest development concerning China. I hope this will help you better know about China, and promote the friendly, pragmatic and win-win cooperation between our two countries through exchanges of views and experiences on such issues as economic and social development, poverty reduction and state governance.
This month, there have been two big events in China. One is the celebration of the Chinese New Year of the Tiger starting from February 1. Tiger is majestic, brave and robust and we have every reason to believe that the Year of the Tiger will bring us all success, health and good luck.
The other event is the recently concluded Beijing Winter Olympic Games which was successfully held on February 4 through 20. The Beijing Paralympics Winter Games will be held next month. Beijing has thus become the first and sole city in the world to have hosted both the summer and winter Olympic games. Guided by the principle of hosting “green, inclusive, open and clean” Olympics, Beijing has worked to deliver a simple, safe and splendid Olympics and a magnificent “Fete on ice and snow” for the world. Participating athletes have enjoyed the Games, Chinese food, culture and hospitality.
This year is an important one for the Communist Party of China(CPC) and the Chinese people. Later this year, the 20th National Congress of the CPC will be convened in Beijing. With this Congress, the new leadership of CPC will be elected to lead the Chinese people to march towards the second centenary goal and build China into a modernized socialist country in all respects by the middle of this century when we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China(PRC).
Last year in July, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC and the 6th Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee was successfully held in November. President Xi Jinping, who is also the General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, announced the successful realization of our first centenary goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. He also declared the complete victory of our battle against absolute poverty. China has lifted more than 770 million rural people out of that condition over the past 4 decades or so. Last year, while successfully containing COVID-19 epidemic, China’s GDP grew by 8.1% to reach 114 trillion yuan or 17.7 trillion US dollars. With our per capita GDP standing at 12,000 US dollars, China has approached the threshold of high-income countries. These achievements are especially significant for a country like China with a population of 1.4 billion and was poor and weak when the PRC was founded in 1949. China has identified the right path of economic, social and human rights development which best suits our national conditions.
Over the past 100 years, the CPC has led the Chinese people in winning the victories of revolution, socialist construction, reform and socialist construction with Chinese characteristics in the new era. The reform and opening up which started in 1978 have fundamentally changed the face of China. Over the past 4 decades of so, China’s economic aggregate has increased by 33.5 times with an average growth rate of 9.5%. As the world’s second largest economy, China now contributes 18 percent of global GDP. The contribution rate of China's economy to the world economy has increased from 2.3% in 1978 to more than 30% since a decade ago.
Since the 18th National Congress held in 2012, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core has led the country in further deepening our reform. More than 1,600 reform plans have been implemented. Let me cite you a few examples. The CPC has launched a battle on poverty eradication and nearly 100 million rural people have shaken off absolute poverty during the past 10 years. By bearing in mind the idea that lucid water and lush mountains are invaluable assets, China has made unremitting efforts and achieved great progress in coping with pollution and conserving the ecological environment. The CPC has fought corruption with a heavy hand whereby hundreds of corrupt senior government officials have been brought down and punished by law during the past decade. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the CPC has put the people in the first place and led our people in successfully containing the pandemic.
With the fast and healthy economic and social development, the Chinese people of all 56 ethics, including those living in Xinjiang, Xizang (or Tibet) and Hong Kong, today are living a happy and content life. And China is one of the safest countries in the world. The global government trust survey shows that the Chinese people's trust in the government is as high as 91%, ranking the first among all countries in the world. The rumors spread and lies fabricated by some Western politicians and media about so-called “genocide and forced labour” in Xinjiang and “human rights violations” in Hong Kong are nothing but an attempt to smear China and impede China’s progress and national rejuvenation.
Ladies and gentlemen,
China firmly supports and puts into practice multilateralism, and promotes the construction of a community with a shared future for mankind. President Xi Jinping advocated the “Belt & Road” Initiative(BRI) in 2013 and the Global Development Initiative(GDI) in 2021 respectively. By adhering to the principles of "consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits", BRI is intended to promote infrastructure construction and connectivity, strengthen the coordination of economic policies and the docking of development strategies, promote coordinated development, and achieve common prosperity. GDI is advocated by China to support the development of developing countries, promote global economic recovery in the post-pandemic era and strengthen international development cooperation.
China-Africa and China-Liberia brotherly friendship and pragmatic cooperation have a long history. President Xi Jinping, when addressing the opening ceremony of the 8th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation(FOCAC) held in Dakar, Senegal last November, emphasized that the key for an everlasting spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation forged between the two sides lies in sincere friendship and equality, win-win for mutual benefit and common development, fairness and justice, and progress with the times and openness and inclusiveness.
By upholding the concept of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith and following the principle of pursuing the greater good and shared interests, China actively promotes the development of China-Africa and China-Liberia comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, and safeguards the common interests of the vast developing countries. In recent years, China-Africa and China-Liberia win-win cooperation, by docking the BRI and FOCAC action plans with African Union Agenda 2063 and Liberia’s Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development(PAPD), has focused on economic growth and development, reducing poverty through human resource capacity development, to ensure sustainable peace and security on the continent and in Liberia.
The Dakar FOCAC Conference is a milestone for China-Africa and China-Liberia cooperation in the new era. President Xi made four proposals for building a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era, which include fighting COVID-19 with solidarity, deepening practical cooperation, promoting green development and upholding equity and justice. He also announced that China will work closely with African countries to implement Nine Programs which include medical and health, poverty reduction and agricultural development, trade promotion, investment promotion, digital innovation, green development, capacity building, cultural and people-to-people exchange, and peace and security.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has assisted many developing countries, Africa in particular, by dispatching expert teams, donating anti-epidemic materials and carrying out COVID vaccine cooperation. By honoring its commitment to make COVID vaccine a global public good, China has so far provided more than 2.1 billion dozes of COVID vaccines to more than 120 countries and international organizations. So far, China has provided various anti-epidemic assistance to 53 African countries and the AU in response to the needs of the African side. Last year, the construction of the China-aided headquarters of the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) started ahead of schedule. China has provided vaccine assistance to 47 African countries and the AU. As President Xi announced at the last FOCAC Conference, China will provide another one billion doses of vaccines to Africa, including 600 million doses as donation and 400 million doses to be provided through such means as joint production by Chinese enterprises and relevant African countries.
Unlike Western practices, China never attaches any political condition to its loans and assistance to Africa. China pays close attention to debt sustainability of recipient countries, fully respects the wills of relevant governments. China will cancel the outstanding interest free loan debt of least developed African countries due at the end of 2021. Among China's partners in Africa and elsewhere, no country is in debt crisis because of their cooperation with China.
Ladies and gentlemen,
China has been and will continue to be a good friend to Liberia. Under the guidance of President Xi Jinping and President George Manneh Weah, by docking the initiative of BRI with that of PAPD, China and Liberia have steadily advanced our pragmatic cooperation in various fields such as economy and trade, infrastructure construction, agriculture, education, and public health with fruitful achievements. China has been fully involved in Liberia’s postwar recovery, from providing support to the UN peacekeeping effort, to infrastructure development and human resource capacity development. China is the first foreign country to rush to support Liberia’s fight against Ebola in 2014 and Covid-19 in 2020. Since 2020, China has donated 4 batches of anti-epidemic materials including surgical masks, PPEs, infrared thermometers, ventilators, oxygen concentrators, etc. to Liberia and we have offered to develop vaccine cooperation with Liberia.
As the stock of Chinese aid and investment in Liberia grow progressively, China is now one of the major development partners in Liberia. Some of the completed and on-going projects include the Ministerial Complex, the Annexes to the Capitol Building and SKD stadium all in Monrovia, the new Roberts International Airport terminal and runway in Margibi County, the University of Liberia Fendell Campus, the Monrovia Vocational Training Center (MVTC), the renovated Tapeta Hospital, and the Agricultural Demonstration Center Project in Bong County, Bamboo & Rattan Weaving and Vegetable Planting Technical Cooperation Project in Monrovia and Bomi County respectively. New and on-going projects including the Overpass Bridges on Tubman Boulevard, Road and Bridge linking Somalia Drive and Sinkor Area, and Liberia Broadcasting System(LBS) expansion project all in Monrovia, as well as the Clinical Diagnosis and Treatment Lab at the 14th Military Hospital in Margibi County are making steady progress(for more information, please visit our embassy’s website at: http://lr.china-embassy.org/chn/).
I would like to give you a bit more information about the agricultural cooperation projects. The Demonstration Center which is near CARI enrolls 10 local young people for vegetable cultivation training for a term of 3 months each. Trainees are provided with meals and $50 subsidy every month. It has expanded its pig breeding scale from 60 heads to 140 heads and has newly added a wood processing and production line to create more job opportunities for local people. For the Bamboo and Rattan Project, more than 900 technical young people engaged in bamboo and rattan weaving and vegetable planting have been trained, and the weaving products and vegetables planted by graduates account for about 50% of the market share. If BWI students are interested in getting trained there, we will be glad to refer you to the two projects.
Ladies and gentlemen,
People-to-people exchanges are an important means of deepening the understanding and friendship between our two peoples. The Chinese government has, over the years, provided a large number of scholarships and training opportunities to Liberian participants. Every year, several dozen full scholarships for bachelor, master or PHD degrees are offered and hundreds of Liberian government officials, scholars, medical doctors and technicians participate in short-term or long-term training scholarship programs. Every year, our embassy also provides Ambassador’s Scholarships to more than 100 students of excellence from University of Liberia, Cuttington University and Tubman University. Since 2020, most of the exchange programs have been delayed by the pandemic. While on-line programs have been offered since last year, we are trying our best to resume the off-line exchange programs.
Booker Washington Institute(BWI), founded in 1929 and being the first agricultural and vocational school in Liberia, has graduated hundreds of thousands of students over the past century. We laud the academic achievements of the Institute and pay our tribute to the management and instructional staff one generation after another for your contributions.
In recent years, there have been some useful exchanges and cooperation between the Chinese side and BWI whereby some of your instructional staff have participated in and benefited from the short-term training programs in agriculture area offered by our government. We have received BWI’s request for the resumption of the exchange programs in agriculture and other technical/vocational areas. I am delighted to inform that your requests have been included into the 2022 short-term training programs offered by the Chinese government. Once the long-term training scholarship scheme is launched, we will positively consider the application by your instructional staff. Meanwhile, given the uncertainty of the pandemic, we encourage the instructional staff to positively consider attending the on-line training courses on sugar refinery and edible mushroom technologies respectively offered exclusively to participants from developing countries. By participating in these programs, it will not exclude your opportunities to participate in the long-term training scholarship programs in the future. I am also pleased to announce that the Embassy will donate 2,000 US dollars to BWI for school clinic expansion, together with a batch of books and VCDs about China and 10 footballs.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Liberian young talents represent the future of your nation and you must give full play to your own advantages and maximize your wisdom to promote sound and rapid economic and social development of your country. In order to do so, BWI students should make up your mind and work hard to learn knowledge, participate in social practice, gain experience, face difficulties squarely and adopt positive attitude towards society and life. At the same time, you are expected to continue to inherit and carry forward the brotherly bond between the peoples of our two countries and contribute to China-Liberia friendly relations and cooperation. With our joint efforts and contribution, we are convinced that China-Liberia friendship and cooperation will be further strengthened and developed in the years to come with a bright future.
In conclusion, I wish to thank you very much for your attention!