• As VP Taylor reaffirms Liberia’s commitment to one China Policy

By G. Bennie Bravo Johnson

The Chinese ambassador accredited to Liberia, H.E. Ren Yisheng, has urged the government of Liberia to formulate long- and medium-term development strategies and policies with concrete and practical programs and plans aimed to effectively reduce and eradicate poverty in order to realize prosperity and development.

Making a PowerPoint presentation on the strengthened development cooperation for sustainable results in Liberia on Thursday, December 15, 2022, at the dialogue event to consolidate peace, stability, and development in Liberia, Mr. Ren disclosed that since the end of the civil conflict, much has been done and achieved in terms of recovery and reconstruction in Liberia.

But, at the same time, he urged that more concerted efforts need to be made at domestic, regional, and international levels to accelerate the implementation of the SDG, AU Agenda 2063, and Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), as advocated by President George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia.

“Put development, including economic development and inclusive social development, in the preferred position of peace and stability.” “Formulate long- and medium-term development strategies and policies with concrete and practical programs and plans aimed to effectively reduce and eradicate poverty and realize prosperity and development,” he urged.

On December 15, 2022, the People’s Republic of China hosted the first edition of the dialogue events to consolidate peace, stability, and development in Liberia. The series “Dialogue” was jointly launched by the German Embassy in Liberia and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in October with the aims of consolidating peace, stability, and cooperation in Liberia and Africa at large.

The program was celebrated and organized under the theme “Strengthened development cooperation for sustainable results. “However, the event, which was held at the multi-functioning Chinese conference hall in the Chinese Embassy, was graced by several members of the diplomatic corps, including the United States Ambassador to Liberia, Michael A. McCarthy, Dr. Jakob Haselhuber, the German ambassador, and other African diplomats, including the Nigerian, Ghanaian, and South African ambassadors.

The program was also graced by Vice President Chief Dr. Jewel Howard-Taylor, Dr. Bhofal Chambers, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Conmany B. Wesseh, Co-Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Senate, Hon. Varney A. Sirleaf, Minister of Internal Affairs; Professor Dr. Ansu Soni, Minister of Education; Hon. Ruth Coker Collins, Minister of Public Works; Hon. Naomi Gray, Assistant Minister for Afro-Asia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and The Chinese ambassador recommends that, given the emphasis on developing and improving infrastructure, the government of Liberia should connect all 15 counties with land, rail, air, or water transportation to enhance development and cooperation.Ambassador Ren appealed to the government to attach importance to power development by building more hydroelectric plants, erecting a sufficient power grid, and making better use of green energy.

Develop ICT and promote smart cities, e-village, e-business, e-education, e-medicine, etc. Vigorously develop agriculture (e.g., rice, corn, yam) by digging up the potentials (large area of fertile and uncultivated arable land, sufficient rainfall, long hours of sunshine, abundant human resources). Make more investment in agriculture (e.g., seeds, fertilizers, agricultural machinery, and water irrigation systems) and raise the incentive for agricultural production by providing subsidies and offering training. Develop more cash crops such as oily palm, coco, coffee, rubber, lemon, sisal, banana, peanuts, pepper, etc. Develop fisheries (e.g., offshore fishing, fish farms, and rice fish culture), poultry, and animal husbandry (one House representative from the South East used to run an agricultural farm and could sell more than 10,000 pieces of eggs and a lot of pork meat every day to Monrovia before the conflict), Mr. Ren warned the government to promote the FTA and Industrial Park and push forward industrialization.

Then there’s the issue of sex. Accelerate the pace of urbanization, especially in remote counties. Amb. Ren pointed that better manage the utilization of natural resources (e.g. minerals and forestry) by enacting laws and regulations, and formulating policies so as to tackle the climate change and ensure green and sustainable development. Develop clean energy and conserve the environment (e.g., solar power, hydropower, biogas, treating garbage to generate power, reducing white pollution).He urged the government to further improve the market- and law-based business environment so as to attract more investment by improving policy transparency, harmonizing relevant laws and regulations (e.g., on land use, mining, and logging), and standardizing law enforcement. “Give special attention to the development issues of youth as they are the future and hope of the nation.” Provide more education, vocational training and job opportunities to the youth.

He concluded by emphasizing the development of vulnerable groups (women, the elderly and aging, and people with disabilities). 

Meanwhile; Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor has reaffirmed Liberia’s commitment to the “One China Policy,” stating that Liberia remains a beneficiary of the economic dividends China offers and that the Liberian government continues to value and respect the territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China.

Speaking at the occasion marking the first event of the dialogue-event to consolidate peace, stability, and development in Liberia, held December 15, 2023, at the Chinese Embassy near Monrovia, vice president Taylor stated that Liberia has maintained China as one of its most reliable allies. stating that the alliance between the two countries was strengthened when Liberia signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese government and officially joined more than 150 countries as members of the Belt and Road Initiative.

At the occasion held under the theme “Strengthening Development Cooperation for Sustainable Results” and launched by the Government of Germany and ECOWAS, the Liberian Vice President recited the gratitude that Liberia shows to China as an “illustrious nation” that is playing a significant developmental role in the development of Liberia.

“The people of Liberia continue to appreciate the alliance between our two nations, an alliance deeply rooted in friendship and mutual respect.”

VP Taylor highlighted some of the major interventions of China in the economic development of Liberia through visible bilateral projects that continue to push Liberia’s development.

She stated that Liberians are still overwhelmed with China’s intervention, which includes the construction of public buildings, health delivery and educational facilities across the country, telecommunications, the construction of the US$55 million Ministerial Complex, the US$40 million New Terminal at Roberts International Airport in Margibi, the US$35 million Jackson F. Doe Hospital in Nimba County, and the US$55 million overpass bridges to be constructed, among dozens of other projects undertaken by China in Liberia.

Further counting the worth of bilateral projects in Liberia, she named the “Chinese Building,” the University of Liberia Fendall Campuses, the installation of traffic lights in Monrovia and its environs, the rehabilitations of the Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex, the extension of the MVTC, rehabilitations, and refurbishing of roads and bridges, amongst others.

While these interventions are indeed laudable, I still believe in an old Chinese proverb: “It is better to teach somebody how to fish than simply give him the fish.”

At the same time, VP Taylor called on the international partners to help Liberia build a better socio-economic development through inaction policies to build the human resource capacity of every Liberian.

“In order to help Liberia in the areas of socio-economic development, our international friends can pursue a policy of enhancing Liberia’s human resource capacity so that our people can fend for themselves.”

We must envision a nation that will transition from aid dependence to self-sufficiency. “Liberia must seize the historical opportunity presented in the new era of China-Liberia relations for the realization of our socio-economic development.”

Meanwhile, the vice president lauded the governments of Germany and ECOWAS for launching such a unique dialogue to assess the impact of China and the international community in Liberia.

“I believe that dialogues like these present the platform for not only the convergence of our international friends and partners, but they also seek to engender discussions on assessing the impact China and our international friends have had in making Liberia a post-conflict success story.”

Noting that the dialogue theme was aptly selected, especially at a time when nations across the world are still grappling with the socio-economic impact of COVID, for me, COVID ushered in two major world realities:

She noted that global health systems are still incapable of handling the health challenges that guarantee human safety, and that cooperation among nations at all levels is the only pathway to achieve sustainable development.

She amplified that the call for development cooperation is being echoed across the global landscape and that the call is resonating at the level of the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union, ECOWAS, and other regional bodies.

She continued by urging the diplomatic missions to be aware that the world will get better through strengthened cooperation.

“We must be aware that our world will only get better when nations strengthen cooperation through trade and diplomacy.”

“As a nation, Liberia believes that cooperation must be at the zenith of any nation’s foreign policy.” Let me specifically appreciate the government and people of China for their enormous contribution to Liberia’s economic transformation. Taylor, Vice President, concluded. 

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