|Presentation by Chinese Ambassador to Liberia H.E. Ren Yisheng On China’s Foreign Policy on Africa with Specific Emphasis on China’s Contribution, Involvement, and Role in Liberia’s Postwar Infrastructure and Human Resource Capacity Development|
(20 October 2022)
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good afternoon. I wish to thank the Diplomatic Development Initiative for this opportunity to share with you China’s foreign policy on Africa and especially China’s foreign policy on and friendly cooperation with Liberia. We highly commend the important role this training program plays in enlightening and enhancing emerging academics and professionals in the area of diplomacy and sustainable development, and wish you every success.
I will briefly touch on China’s overall foreign policy before turning to China’s foreign policy on and cooperation with Africa and Liberia.
First, on China’s foreign policy
At the outset, I would like to take this opportunity to briefly share with you some information about the on-going 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China(CPC) which will be a milestone for the Chinese nation’s rejuvenation. The Congress opened in Beijing on October 16 and will conclude on October 22. CPC Central Committee General Secretary Xi Jinping who is also President of the People’s Republic of China(PRC) delivered a work report to the Congress. While summing up the work over the past 5 years since the 19th Congress and the achievements made in the New Era over the past 10 years since the 18th Congress, General Secretary Xi has set out the main tasks of CPC in the coming 5 years.
Here are some of the keys messages from the Report. China will accelerate creating a new development pattern and pursue high-quality development. We will advance whole-process people's democracy and ensure that the people run the country. We will build cultural confidence and strength and secure new successes in developing socialist culture. We will improve the people's well-being and raise quality of life. We will pursue green development and promote harmony between humanity and nature. We will exercise law-based governance on all fronts and advance the rule of law in China. We will invigorate China through science and education and develop a strong workforce for the modernization drive. We will modernize China's national security system and capacity and safeguard national security and social stability. We will promote world peace and development and build a human community with a shared future. China will achieve the centenary goal of the People's Liberation Army and further modernize national defense and the military. We will uphold and improve the policy of One Country, Two Systems and promote national reunification. We will exercise full and rigorous self-governance and advance the great new project of Party building in the New Era.
China’s foreign policy is characterized by a commitment to equality of all countries regardless of their size. China pursues an independent foreign policy of peace and holds high the banner of peace, development and win-win cooperation. The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, advocated by China together with India and Myanmar in the early 1950s are the basic norms for China to handle relations with all countries.
The Five Principles are: mutual respect for territorial sovereignty, non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence.
China actively participates in multilateral diplomacy, maintains and strengthens the authority and leading role of the United Nations and the Security Council, and strives to play a constructive role in international affairs.
Over the past 10 years after entering the new era, China has adopted a major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. It takes building a community with a shared future for mankind as its core value orientation, takes the "Belt and Road"(B&R) as its main focus, and adopts a new type of international relations featuring "mutual respect, fairness and justice, and win-win cooperation", "amity, sincerity, mutual benefit, and inclusiveness".
In 2013, President Xi Jinping put forward the Belt & Road Initiative(BRI). By adhering to the principles of "consultation, 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.
As of the end of 2021, China has signed more than 200 cooperation documents on the joint construction of B&R with 145 countries(including Liberia) and 32 international organizations, covering investment, trade, finance, technology, society, humanities, people's livelihood and other fields.
From 2013 to 2021, the total import and export value between China and the countries along the B&R had increased from 6.5 trillion yuan to 11.6 trillion yuan, with an average annual growth rate of 7.5%.
According to the prediction of the World Bank, the joint construction of the B&R is expected to lift 7.6 million people out of extreme poverty and 32 million people out of moderate poverty in relevant countries.
Last year, President Xi put forward a Global Development Initiative (GDI) at the General Debate of the 76th UN General Assembly, calling on the international community to pay attention to the urgent issues facing developing countries and jointly promote global development to a new stage of balance, coordination and inclusiveness.
In February this year, President Xi proposed a Global Security Initiative (GSI) at the Boao Forum for Asia 2022 annual session. Its essence is to forge a new security path of dialogue rather than confrontation, partnership rather than alliance, and win-win rather than zero-sum by taking the new security concept as the guide, mutual respect as the basic principle, the inseparability of security as the important principle, and the building of a security community as the long-term goal.
Second, on China’s foreign policy on Africa
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 comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, and safeguards the common interests of the vast developing countries.
When addressing the opening ceremony of the 8th Ministerial Conference of FOCAC held in Dakar, Senegal last November, 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 health care, 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.
Today, the outcomes of China-Africa cooperation are all over the African continent. 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.
Since the establishment of FOCAC in 2000 and the implementation of the 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 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 field of humanities, China has become a place that many young Africans yearn for, and more and more Chinese are coming to work, study and live in Africa. Currently, about 62,000 African students are studying in China, accounting for one fifth of all foreign students studying in China, and among them, 9,200 are government scholarship recipients.
In the face of the sudden outbreak of COVID-19, China and Africa have united and cooperated to overcome the difficulties together. 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. The China-aided headquarters building of the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) is expected to be completed early next year. China has provided around 200 million doses of vaccine to 27 African countries. As President Xi announced at the last FOCAC Ministerial Conference, China will provide another one billion doses of vaccine 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.
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%.
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.
Over the past months, positive progress has been made in implementing the outcomes of the 8th Ministerial Conference of FOCAC. China will waive 23 interest-free loans for 17 African countries that had matured by the end of 2021.
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. Among China's partners in Africa and elsewhere, no country is in debt crisis because of their cooperation with China.
China-Africa cooperation has become a model for South-South cooperation and international cooperation with Africa. The biggest feature of China-Africa cooperation is mutual benefit and common development.
In the post-epidemic era and taking the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and AU as the new starting point, 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.
Third, on China-Liberia friendly cooperation
China has been fully involved in Liberia’s postwar recovery, from providing support to the UN peacekeeping effort, to peace-building, infrastructure development and human resource capacity development.
China-Liberia cooperation is an important part of China-Africa cooperation. Our friendly, pragmatic and win-win cooperation has achieved a series of tangible results, such as the SKD Sports Complex and Ministry of Health in the early days, the Fendall Campus of the University of Liberia, Monrovia Vocational Training Center and the rebuilt JFD Hospital in Tapeta shortly after the civil conflict.
So far, China has carried out several terms of technical assistance projects including the Agricultural Technology Demonstration Center, the Bamboo and Rattan Weaving and Vegetable Planting Project, SKD Sports Complex and Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) maintenance, and mineral resources survey. The Agricultural Demonstration Center and the Bamboo and Rattan Project have graduated 2,500 and 900 trainees respectively.
Since 2018, China's BRI advocated by President Xi and Liberia's “Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development”(PAPD) advocated by President George Manneh Weah have achieved effective docking, and the outcomes have brought real benefits to both countries.
The China-aided projects such as the Ministerial Complex, the two annexes to the Capitol Building, and the Roberts International Airport through concessional loan dedicated since 2018 have become new landmarks of Monrovia. 50 China-aided bore wells have helped Liberian rural schools to access to safe drinking water.
New projects including the two Overpass Bridges on Tubman Boulevard, the National Clinical Diagnostic and Treatment Lab at the 14 Military Hospital, the Fingerprint Examination Lab, and LBS upgrade and expansion projects are in the tendering and procurement phases. A Chinese engineering team is expected to come to conduct the feasibility study for the Somalia-Sinkor Road and Bridge project. The two governments are working closely on implementing a new phase of economic and technical cooperation.
China has also become one of Liberia's major development partners. As of the first half of 2021, China's direct investment stock in various industries in Liberia reached 181 million US dollars. In mining area, China Union will resume its production and Bao Chico will begin its operation respectively soon. On trade, China will implement a zero-tariff policy on 98% of imported goods from Liberia. Chinese-funded enterprises have contracted most of the major infrastructure projects in Liberia. The two sides also seek to expand cooperation in areas such as agricultural modernization, industrialization development, green economy, tourism, telecommunications and power.
People-to-people exchanges have played an important role in deepening the understanding and friendship between our two peoples. China provides around 50 full government scholarships and more than 150 short- and long-term training opportunities which includes master and doctorate degree scholarships, to Liberian students and trainees. For the 2020-2023 period, the Chinese government will provide altogether 190 full scholarships to Liberian elites.
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.
On coping with epidemics, China is the first foreign country to rush to support Liberia’s fight against Ebola in 2014 and Covid-19 in 2020. Since the outbreak of COVID, China has donated 6 batches(4 by government and 2 by civil society organizations) of anti-epidemic materials including surgical masks, PPEs, infrared thermometers, ventilators, oxygen concentrators, ambulances and etc. to Liberia. The 15th batch of China Medical Team has recently arrived in Liberia and started its work at JFK Medical Center. JFK Medical Center is also among one of the 30 African hospitals which have been selected for pair-up cooperation with Chinese hospitals to cope with pandemics.
In recent years, the Chinese government has provided food-aid up to 2,500 tons of rice to Liberia annually. Last year, the Chinese government spent two million US dollars to purchase food supplies through WFP and provided food rations to approximately 55,250 students and their families in Montserrado, Nimba, and Maryland counties. Earlier this year, the Chinese government, in collaboration with UNICEF, implemented a food- and nutrition-aid project in an amount of one million US dollars which has benefited pregnant women and new born babies of all 15 Liberian counties.
Last year, on behalf of All-China Women’s Federation, China Disabled Persons’ Federation, China Charity Federation and some Chinese enterprises, I turned over two consignments of food, clothing, electronic tablets to the Clar Hope Foundation established by the First Lady of Liberia and the Jewel Star Fish Foundation established by the Vice President of Liberia respectively. Not long ago, on behalf of my embassy, I turned over altogether 12,000 packages of sanitary pads for the needy young women of Liberia to the above-mentioned two foundations.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Entering the new era, China will continue to walk hand in hand with the African and Liberian 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 GDI and the 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.