Forty-six (46) years ago today, 29th July, 2017, the Republic of Sierra Leone and the People’s Republic of China entered into diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level, an event marking the birth of a long and lasting cooperation beyond the bilateral level. Since 1971, both countries have had strong and unbroken record of genuine friendship both at the government-to-government and people-to-people levels. Since then, both nations have made efforts to ensure the lifting of the bars of cooperation.
Forty-six years today, we both have also remained supportive of each other both at the bilateral and multilateral levels. Take for instance, when three months after establishing ties with China, Sierra Leone joined other African nations and voted in favor of a United Nations General Assembly Resolution, Resolution 2758, recognizing the People’s Republic of China as the only legitimate representative of China in the UN Body of Nations. That was the beginning of a long journey of friendship.
Today, cooperation between Sierra Leone and China has attained a Comprehensive Strategic Status. The 2016 state visit to the People’s Republic of China by President Ernest Bai Koroma was itself significantly important as it led to the signing of a number of cooperation agreements. These cooperation agreements are in themselves testament of the cordial and mutual trust of friendship.
At the multilateral level, China has always assured of scaling up her collaboration and support to Sierra Leone. As Chair of the Committee of 10 on the Reform of the Security Council, Sierra Leone is fully aware of the supportive role Africa continues to receive from the People’s Republic of China.
We remain impressed by the show of true friendship we have had with the People’s Republic of China. We are a developing nation but with huge potentials for socio-economic growth. China remains a major development partner especially in areas of infrastructure growth, health, human resource development and agriculture. When ebola struck, they were the first to provide an international response to the outbreak in Sierra Leone. They airlifted the needed medical supplies to contain the outbreak, added to plans for the construction of a Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and the deployment of medical personnel.
The setting up of a China Friendship Teaching and Referral Hospital in Sierra Leone, the construction of a new Foreign Affairs Ministry building, the construction of the Regent Grafton Road and even the growing cooperation in the military sector are all helping to showcase the growth in ties between the two nations. We are aware of the numerous training opportunities China continues to offer to hundreds of our citizens. We are hopeful these opportunities will be instrumental in strengthening the ties between the two nations and also be strategic in our nation building efforts.
Indeed, China has taken a prominent role in the infrastructural development of Sierra Leone and generally in the area of capacity building of government and other private sector officials. Within the FOCAC framework of development cooperation, we will continue to work closely for the good of the people of both nations. We also will work towards building on the gains we have made in the last decades.
At 46 years of diplomatic ties, we today cannot overemphasize the need to open new frontiers of cooperation. There is every need to further heighten the commitment in dealing with specific activities, thus shifting from normal diplomacy, to engagement on a person-to-person basis, building on the economic ties and explore new co-operations more so in line with private sector involvement.
This eventually calls for strategic engagement with all sectors of growth including the Chinese private sector. With the Chinese go-global policy, Sierra Leone will also continue to provide the enabling environment for would-be credible Chinese investors all in a bid to foster this all important cooperation. Long live the Sierra Leone-China cooperation and friendship.
ENDNOTE: This article is an excerpt from a statement delivered by Mrs. Kumba Alice Momoh, Charge D’Affaires, Sierra Leone Embassy in the People’s Republic of China on the occasion of the 46th anniversary of bilateral ties between the Republic Of Sierra Leone and the People’s Republic of China held on Saturday, 29th July, 2017.
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