John Baimba Sesay-China
China is Africa’s major development partner, especially as outlined within the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) development framework.
FOCAC has been a leading development cooperation mechanism setup in 2000; it serves as an instrument in fostering cooperation between the continent and China.
China is the world’s second largest economy, after the United States of America whilst Africa accounts for the highest number of growing economies.
China’s general principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states at the bilateral levels of cooperation is central in her foreign policy. This is not to also ignore their cooperation models of ‘win-win’, partnership, ‘shared growth principle’ and Investment-oriented trade, special economic zones, and industrialization.
Since Sierra Leone and China entered into diplomatic ties in July 29th 1971, cooperation between the two countries has been strong and continues to grow.
The level of cooperation was lifted when three months after establishing with China ties, Sierra Leone voted in favor of a United Nations General Assembly 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 and China remains a major player in Sierra Leone’s growth process especially in infrastructure, health, human resource development and agriculture amongst others.
In 1978, Sierra Leone played host to Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. In 1973, two years into diplomatic relations, Siaka Stevens, Sierra Leone found leader of the All People’s Congress and sitting President then, was to visit China. These close bilateral ties have continued to flourish. In 2015 Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was visit Sierra Leone a gesture has in 2016.
His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma has also visited a number of times, latest been in 2013 which was his third as President of Sierra Leone. That was on the invitation of the Chinese leadership and Tsinghua University.
But why this bond of friendship between the two nations, many have asked.
Political pundits believe, at the party-to-party level, the governing APC party and the Communist Party of China are enjoying good acquaintance.
Since 2007 when President Koroma was elected, to date, much is happening in strengthening the relations. The Chinese were the first to provide an international response to the ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. They airlifted the much needed medical supplies to contain the outbreak, added to plans for the construction of a Centre for Disease Control (CDC).
By the end of this year, work is expected to commence on the construction of a new airport on the mainland in the Port Loko District with funds coming from the Chinese. The airport is expected to open up the country’s economic potentials, amongst other benefits.
The setting up of a China Friendship Teaching and Referral Hospital at Jui, the construction of a new Foreign Affairs Ministry building and the construction of the Regent Grafton Road would largely showcase the growth in ties between the two nations under the presidency of Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma.
The presidency of Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma continues to open stronger ties of cooperation at the international level. The growth in ties between Sierra Leone and the People’s Republic of China is also credited to the astute leadership that is being provided over the years by the leaderships of both nations.