7 August 2018

Liberia: The New Era of China-Liberia Relations - a Story of Friendship and Win-Win Cooperation

Being wary of zero sum game and protectionism in the international balance of power, those at the helm of power in the country need to acutely reflects on a parable which says "The ocean is vast because it admits all rivers" while another saying goes, "History, if not forgotten, can serve as a guide for the future," and third parable goes: "Delicious soup is made by combining different ingredients", therefore we should seize the historical opportunity presented in the new era of China-Liberia relationship for the realization of the nation's pro poor. An Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Liberia Graduate School, Josephus Moses Gray offers insight into the new era of China-Liberia and the story of unique friendship and a win-win cooperation.

The new era of friendship subsisting between the two countries-Liberia and China, should move forward against all odds, build on open and inclusive friendship through exchanges and mutual understanding by fostering partnerships based on dialogue, common interest and non-confrontation. At the peak of this level, our leaders need to be proactive-not reactive; they should not wait for their counterparts from Beijing and other great capitals or investors to identify Liberia's needs of interests.

Our leaders, especially those at the corridor of power, should be fully aware of the international balance of power and win-win cooperation, and should pinpoint Liberia's priorities areas of interests of modernizations, industrializations and economic growth; if President Weah's pro poor philosophy which literally means poverty reduction is to be achieved. Those at the helm of key positions of state powers and others assigned at the notion's diplomatic missions abroad need to be ahead of the game, be farsighted and proactive and not place themselves in the position of a"push and start".

Considering the nation's economic inertia, the right policy at the right time by the right people at the right place should instituted and that those at the helm of states' power be proactive by knocking on the doors of vibrant Chinese financial institutions like the Bank of China for economic growth and human resource and infrastructure developments. To achieve this goal, the right people with the requisite skills, experience, qualifications and education need to be accorded the task and place in the rightful position of national duty.

The Chinese government has captured the attention of many African countries including Liberia due primarily to Beijing's reasonable approaches towards socio-economic and infrastructural development, and the ways in which the Chinese government practices win-win diplomacy and is foreign aid's policy. Beijing's "win-win" diplomatic style has featured greater accommodations with several African countries like Liberia.

The Chinese President, Xi Jinping, in his recent book title: The Governance of China, II, page 598 paragraph two disclosed that from 1950 to 2016, China provided foreign countries with over RMB400 billion in aid, and will continue to increase assistance. According to him, China has contributed on average over 30 percent of global growth each year and revealed that in the coming years, China is expected to importUS$8 trillion worth of goods, attract US$600 billion in foreign investment, and made US$750 billion in outbound investment.

With the swift rise of overall strength of developing countries and the increase of South-South cooperation, Forum on China-Africa cooperation (FOCAC) has momentously advanced into a new platform for China and African countries to strengthen multilateral discussions for win-win cooperation. FOCAC has recognized the continent's growing standing in the global community of principles and shared humanity, its development potential for China and Africa.

As a manner of reflection, Liberia historically had strong bilateral ties with China and African countries; since the country became member of FOCAC, it has seen a complementary interaction between south-south cooperation and the current bilateral cooperation. In this regard, Liberia and China have relished exceptional economic cooperation over the decades.

The current administration in Liberia needs to play a pivotal role as a key member and at the same time ensure that Liberia's interest and membership in FOCAC are protected for a win-win cooperation. It is important that Liberia's representatives to this year's September FOCAC be proactive and understand the dynamics of contemporary politics if Liberia is to benefit from FOCAC's dividends, just like other African countries like South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia.

From the perspective of economic benefits, Liberia should take advantage of FOCAC to present its case for economic improvement, infrastructure and human resource development, and not to be spectators while other African countries diplomatically showcased their economic needs. Presently, Liberia's GDP accounts as one of the less compared to over 40 African countries.

FOCAC was established in 2000 during the heat of the Liberian bloodiest war; since then FOCAC has served as an important engine in promoting China-Africa cooperation in all fields since then. The FOCAC summits in Beijing in 2006 and in Johannesburg in 2015 pushed China-Africa economic cooperation to new heights. In order to encourage African industrialization, China also established the China-Africa Fund for Industrial Cooperation, with a startup capital of $10 billion and increased capital of $5 billion each to the China-Africa Development Fund and the Special Loan for the Development of African SMEs.

Our leaders to the September's FOCAC needs to critically reflect the ten plans of FOCAC which include principles and shared values and should understand that the Forum has gone beyond the original realm of economic cooperation to reach much wider realms, such as international politics and geostrategic structure that promotes a win-win cooperation. FOCAC has become a mechanism of collective consultation and dialogue between China and friendly African countries, providing a new platform of friendly exchange and cooperation between China and Africa. Besides bilateral channels, I am deeply convinced that with the concerted efforts of China and Africa, the forthcoming FOCAS Summit in September this year is bound to bring out more practical results, and breathe new vitality into the friendly relationship between China and Africa.

Recent trends confirmed that China-Liberia relations are moving ahead in a very positive way, based on a vision of the community of a shared future, mutual support and equality grounded on a common historical struggle against imperialism and national independence. A closer strategic alignment between China and Liberia and in areas of key focus such as economic cooperation will produce win-win cooperation for both nations.

The new era of friendship between China and Liberia enjoyed sound and all-round growth in 2013 during the former regime of ex-president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. The two countries had frequent political exchanges. In March, 2012, Johnson Sirleaf sent a congratulatory letter to Xi Jinping on his election as Chinese President. Notable progress was made in business ties as well as people-to people, cultural and military exchanges between the two countries.

Before the Johnson-Sirleaf' administration to inaugurate diplomatic ties with China, ex-president Charles Taylor despotic government switched ties to Taiwan Strait (Republic of China). Mr. Taylor thoughtlessly thought that ROC could help to boost his authoritarian government's development agenda. But the former regime of Charles Gyude Bryant once National Transitional Government of Liberia severed diplomatic ties with ROC and reestablished relationship with Beijing.

Years back as a reflection, former Speaker of the House of Representative Edwin Snowe reportedly met covertly with the Taiwanese Government officials in the Republic of Gambia. The Snowe's secret visit caused a forceful storm of disapprovals and negative reactions because many Liberians felt that Mr. Snowe's unilateral action undermined the ex-president Johnson-Sirleaf administration's recognition of one China policy. China is happy to remain in Liberia as long as Taiwan is out, the former Chinese Ambassador to Liberia has said during my interaction with him in my previous capacity as Assistant Foreign Minister for Public Affairs and Diplomacy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Liberia. China sees a small window of opportunity to consolidate its influence and project its power.

For example, Chinese companies have been working in the Liberia thus engaged into visible bilateral projects including infrastructural construction of public buildings, sports stadium, health delivery and educational facilities across the country, telecommunications sector and is now about to complete the construction of Sixty Million United States Dollars Ministerial Complex and the New Terminal at RIA. It has refurbished and decided the Annex of Capitol Building.

Whilst as the United States continues to debate the merits of aid to Liberia, China will continue to fill a major gap in several areas of interventions. While it is too early to predict precisely whether Chinese long-term rendezvous in Liberia will produce a positive influence, the impact of China in the country is highly visible in several developmental areas including roads rehabilitations, constructions of bridges, hospitals, schools, sports stadium, agriculture facilities, and investments projects.

All of these projects create opportunities (include jobs) for the current administration to fulfill the hopes and aspirations of the people. Chinese Government growing popularity Liberia is due to the soft power approach in the region and the speed of which it responses to developmental requests by unpunished countries like Liberia. Nowadays, China remains a shining and deeply admired posture in the realm of mutual respect for others to be master of their own destiny and captain of their own future. Indeed, that's praiseworthy.

For instance, during the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, China was the first to response with medical aid and cash. In July 2011, the project of Bang Iron Mines in Liberia undertaken by Wuhan Iron and Steel (Group) Corporation was put into operation. In September 2011 China, for the first time, sent a 140-strong riot squad to Liberia for the UN peacekeeping operation.

China's relationship with Liberia is a strong example of how China is using soft power to successfully and deftly broaden its influence in Africa. China gains at least short-term popularity by answering the request of the Liberia Government especially in time of urgent need and long term solution the country's numerous infrastructural needs.

In the views of Liberians, China is not only a credible and willing international partner but also a strategic option for the country's development. On the other hand, the Liberian market is relatively small in comparison to many African markets. Ordinary Liberians feel that Chinese-made commodities are not durable.

There have been enthusiasms from Liberians for goods made in the United States compared to that made in China. Liberian consumers, workers and small businesses are worried about the economy. The perceptions of Liberians toward Chinese made products are fewer enthusiasms.

According to the Chinese Nation Bureau of Statistics (NBS), China's industrial output expanded 6.8 percent in May 2018. Its data also showed that country's GDP rose to 80 trillion yuan (about 12.3 trillion US dollars), over 13 million jobs were created, more than 700 million of which 10 million rural residents were lifted out of poverty.

China maintains diplomatic relationship with 54 of the 55 African states while Africa is the largest oversea destination for Chinese but the lack of well defined and effective policy formulations by African governments and leaderships are pulling the continent backward, while the issue of wide spread corruption, extortion fees and illegal payment demanded by African custom officers, immigration personnel and state actors which perpetually exist without a decisive punishment are also killing Africa's growth, state actors in Beijing have said with no particular reference to any African country.

In the face of China's remarkable achievement, how can Liberia take advantage of exceptional bonds of friendship with China to access BRICS contingency reserve of US$100 Billion offers member states and US$110 Million set apart for development in Africa for the current year of 2018 by the Bank of China and the addition Chinese US$14 Billion investment in Africa.

Although Liberia is not a member of the bloc but the George Weah's regime can use its friendship with China and other's BRICS members like India, Russia, South Africa and Brazil to seek assistance in the form of loan. BRICS through its New Development Bank (NDB) offers a new choice for all the developing countries in their pursuit of self-sustainable development and the NDB African region office in Johannesburg has committed US$15 Billion for loan purposes.

Besides BRICS, Chinese Government also tabled lots of financial opportunities for FOCAC member countries to seek loan or financial assistance. These financial openings were actually explained by Mr. Lu Lei, Deputy Administrator of the State Administration of China Foreign Exchange, during the recent China-Africa Think Tank Forum held in Beijing. He told the forum of 350 scholars from China and Africa that trade and investment between China and African states need to be increased, but said the process must be based on honesty, sincerity and clear policies conformity with the principles and shared values in pursuing core interests.

In his statistics, Mr. Lu Lei narrates that China is undertaking US$14 Billion investments in Africa while China Africa development has funded US$330 million projects in Africa in one of Africa's six regions. Additional US$110 Million for development in Africa for the current year of 2018 has been approved. African countries need to access the development assistance through unique projects that are in conformity with principles and shared values shielded by mutual understanding.

According to Mr. Lu Lei, the Bank of China has over US$100 Billion investment in Africa which is geared towards achieving a win-win cooperation between China and African countries, while the Bank is also supporting projects in 47 of the 55 countries in Africa, the Bank prioritizes economic and social development to boost production, economic growth and welfare of the people.

Mr. Lu Lei records that African countries like Tanzania, Sudan, Kenya, Senegal, Egypt, Uganda and Ethiopia among others are highly benefiting from the Bank's projects. The Bank of China, he disclosed is supporting dozens of various types of tangible projects across Africa while it also involved in cooperation, financial development in Africa and human development. It helped to train over 5,000 Kenyans.

Speeches from African scholars at the recent China-Africa think tank Forum in Beijing provided a cool and composed contrast to Western journalists' blustery demeanor and naive perception of China-Africa's ties. Generally, the African scholars in a rightly condemnation of Western journalists' propaganda against Beijing, offered a subtle yet sharp rebuke of global media's antiquated, anti-China economic growth and lack of conditionality toward aid to African governments and states.

Interestingly, the strength of unity and mutual trust and respectability, among the Chinese and African scholars was unique, respecting each other's chosen paths, shared values, innovation and accommodated each other's core interests, ideas and concerns regarding FOCAC. Our leaders need to learn more about China's remarkable transformation and draw lessons from the Asian Tiger and Japanese miracle so that can be passed down from generation to generation. More efforts should be made to ensure grain production, optimize agricultural structure, and increase farmers' loan scheme and income, wins the battle against corruption and poverty to put Liberia on par with other African countries like Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, and Senegal in the areas of vitalization.

Besides, Liberia needs a strong government supported by strong civil society institutions, political stability and a new vision of development through a self-developed ideas and innovations in order to achieve economic, social and infrastructure growth.

The September FOCAC's Summit is expected to welcome new democratically elected African leaders including the President of Africa's oldest state, the Republic of Liberia, His Excellency President George Mannah Weah who cannot wait to attend FOCAC and make the case for China-African win-win situation. Let me share with this Forum a very interested historical fact about Liberia's dynamic political system in Africa.

Interestingly, Liberia is not just the First African's Republic but also the First to democratically elect the First Woman President in Africa, Her Excellency Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirlead. Again, Liberia is the First to elect a Soccer Legend as President in Africa, his Excellency Mr. George Mannah Weah. Again and again, Liberia bears the planted seed that gave birth to the Organization of African Union (OAU) now African Union (AU) which indeed with pride and joy, originated from held in Liberia while Liberia was the first to produce the First Female President of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Our leadership can play an active role in furthering mutually beneficial and win-win in terms of the West African political, Liberia occupied an important positions. Politically, China and Liberia maintain a unique friendship. Given Liberia's poor economic situation, the forthcoming FOCAC should also be used to access China's industrial pack and importantly, pay keen attention to the Chinese' miracle of economic practicability and achievement of 40 years, while the issue of foreign aid assistance from China should play second.

The nation cannot continue to rely on foreign aid assistance. This will be an added advantage for this administration to successfully emerge from the current economic and international financial crisis, for the process of rapid recovery to achieve sustainable development for the realization of President Weah's pro poor agenda.

More inspiringly, Liberia needs to reflect on China's 40 years of opening up have made remarkable achievements that have attracted the attention of the world. And that country should use it diplomatic dynamics to knock on the doors of Chinese leaderships reassured its faithful commitment to the south-south cooperation, and reaffirm the government's principles and shared values for the sole purpose of the obtainment of sustainable development in terms of an improved economic, industrialization and infrastructure development and African integration.

It is my understanding that China's large population has been the engine for its impressive growth rate. And if African economics were to go through a similar economic miracle as China, African leaders need to sufficiently invest in the development of Africa's greatest asset-its young population because success without a successor is a failure. There is a need to develop the workforce in Africa to complete in the global knowledge based economy.

Over the past decades, China's GDP has averaged a yearly growth rate of about 9.5 percent. While in terms of foreign trade, China has registered a yearly growth of over 14.5 percent in U.S. dollars. In the last 10 years, with China's strength in the workforce, capital, market and technology, the nation, on average, contributed 30 percent of the global economic growth yearly, sharing the benefits of China's development with the world.

Also, the country's share in the global economic growth rose from 2.7 to 16 percent; its per-capita GDP exceeded US$800 in 2017; in the past 40 years, a total of 800 million Chinese are helped out of poverty which amounted to over 70 percent global poverty reduction. Besides, China is the first developing country to meet the Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations in terms of poverty reduction.

China has backed up this proposal with a fund of US$60 billion for major capital projects. These projects are tied to developing locals' economic capacity, for a win-win cooperation to be sustainable. So as the Chinese people celebrate their four decades of reforms and opening up, African leaders will want to remain the West of their application of China's snowballing significance as their leading development partner.

For instance, China is the strongest partner of several African states including South Africa; in 2017 bilateral trade between the two countries increased by 11.65 percent year on year to reach US$39.17billion. Today, China is South Africa largest trading partner and a major source of investment and oversea tourists.

Liberia is a low-income country that relies heavily on foreign assistance and remittances from the Diaspora. It is richly endowed with water, mineral resources, forests, and a climate favorable to agriculture. Its principal exports are iron ore, rubber, diamonds, and gold. Palm oil and cocoa are emerging as new export products. According to World Bank latest statistics, Liberia's Gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2017 is estimated at 2.5% compared to a deceleration of 1.6% in 2016 and zero percent growth in 2015. While Chinas per-capita GDP exceeded US$800 in 2017; in the past 40 years, a total of 800 million Chinese are helped out of poverty which amounted to over 70 percent global poverty reduction.

I have no doubt that FOCAC will become an example of mutual understand and friendship and make new contributions to the establishment of a new type of international relations featuring a community of shared values and win-win cooperation. The administration needs to develop a comprehensive blue-print roadmap of areas of concentration to seek financial assistance from the financial institutions setup by China, such as China-Africa Fund for Industrial Cooperation and China-Africa Development Fund.

Those that will be at the front of this project should possess the negotiations skills, internationally be prepared and be cognizant of the new dynamic of international politics, and not someone or people who might be spectators when engaging the Chinese leadership. Our delegation to FOCAC should inject new revolutionary value of receptiveness imbued with highly cultivated level-headedness as an added impetus to FOCAC ten plans and a regional cooperation mechanism in Africa. In fact, Liberia should be enthusiastic about participating in the Belt and Road construction, one of the shared values of FOCAC.

President Weah administration should firmly demonstrate its commitment during FOCAC gathering in September since the forum presents new possibilities for regional integration and broad-based economic development through internationally trade relations, financing of infrastructure and industrial pack, as well as social and cultural exchange. It is expected that Liberia will use the September's FOCAC to solidify the spirit of partnership and foster greater shared empathetic among FOCAC's member states. Liberia needs to put forth key plans to strengthen the country's ties with China since such proposals are gears toward fruition of economic benefits.

Liberia's challenge is to create favorable conditions for inward foreign direct investment flows. Liberia should be effective and visible than just participating as a member of FOCAC; out leaders at the forum should network, make the case for assistance for the nation. Our people should project the case of highly complementary each other while at the same time Liberia should have a clear comparative interests to accelerate progress back home.

In his first State of the Nation Address, President Weah clearly stated the key priorities for his government including improve public sector transparency and efficiency, creating environment for transparent and honest businesses, filling in infrastructure gaps in particular connecting the Southeast through the coastal road, and creating jobs for youth.

Meanwhile, China is also undertaken several other millions dollars' worth of projects in Liberia including the "Chinese Building" University of Liberia Fendall Campuses, the Jackson Doe's Medical Hospital in Tapita in Nimba County, the installation of Traffic lights in Monrovia and its environs of Sinkor and Paynesville, the rehabilitations of the Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex, the Extension of MVTC, rehabilitations and refurbishing of roads and bridges, peacekeeping mission, warding fellowships to public and private sectors, and support to the national army and security apparatus.

Besides, the China win-win diplomacy and soft power in Liberia has given the Chinese leverage in the country. Today, some Liberian political and economic elites even believe that China is not only a credible and willing international partner but also a strategic option for growth in Liberia. America too is clearly concerned.

Liberians must heed the lessons learned. History has shown that whenever a rising power, like China, creates fear among its neighbors and other great powers, such as America, that can be a cause of conflict in direct reference to Newton's third law is: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The statement means that in every interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects. The size of the forces on the first object equals the size of the force on the second object.

In the words of He Jun, a Beijing-based energy consultant: China does not have a competitive edge over its Western counterparts in an open market. But in a closed market like Africa's, Chinese companies are able to gain from government influence."' Western oil companies, not to mention industry based in other sectors, have been able to build upon generations of engagement dating back to the colonial period to secure their investments in Africa. The result has been a Chinese strategy constructed around the following areas.

The Chinese economic interests goes beyond Liberia, Angola, and Sudan to Africa's major rich richer states such as Nigeria and Angola, thereby focusing on establishing stronger trading and economic ties with petroleum producing states by following a policy of mercantilism, while oil companies, which are under strict government control, seek to sign equity deals with oil companies and obtain a stake in the local oil industry.

In Nigeria, Sao Tome, South Sudan, Liberia, Principe, Angola and several African states along the west coast of Africa are the main hotspots for Chinese oil interest. Nigeria is second the biggest exporter of oil in the region, while Angola first after taking over Nigeria. For Angola, the state's rejection of Western aid conditionality, paved the way for the acceptance of Chinese aid, and the takeover of an oil block hither-to allocated owned Total (upon its expiration) to a Chinese oil company. China's top five African trading partners (Capital Week) are Angola, South Africa, Sudan, Nigeria, and Egypt. China has also pursued exploration and production deals in smaller, lower-visibility countries, like Gabon.

In 1949, the birth of new China opened up a new chapter in Sino-African relations. Since 1950s and 1960s, as more and more African countries won independence and established diplomatic relations with China, the Sino-African relationship was ushered into a new era of all-round development that is having great impacts on the lives of millions on both fronts; the presence of China in Africa's development cannot be questioned.

China is visible on the continued march as evident by the hundreds of projects undertaking or completed, while new agreements have been consolidated for an effective implementation. China's robust economic growth in the past 30 years, which has lifted 600 million people out of extreme poverty, offers lessons for other regions, especially Africa. China has been consistently supporting African regional and sub-regional organizations like OAU, AU, SADC and ECOWAS, in efforts to safeguard regional peace and security.

Sino-African trade and economic cooperation has been advancing smoothly. For long, China has provided within its capacity sincere assistance to the economic development of African countries, Liberia is a case study where China's infrastructures are visible. China has provided aid to hundreds of projects in Africa which involved agriculture, road, infrastructure, health, education, animal husbandry, fishery, textile, energy, water conservancy, power generation and other sectors. China's vastly increased involvement in Africa over the past decade is one of the most significant recent developments in the region.

In recent years, China-Africa interconnectivity construction and industrial capacity cooperation have yielded important fruits, such as the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, which came into operation in October in 2016, and the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway in May 2017. Industrial park construction along the rail routes has seen preliminary achievements.

An Assistant Professor of the University of Liberia Graduate studies program offers insight into the importance of this year's September FOCAC and the role expected of African leaders when to meet their counterparts from China in an intense but mutual discussions for the future of FOCAC.

It is also expected that the forum will produce a remarkable result and enhance concrete benefits of win-win cooperation. As protectionism and exclusivism makes its way into certain major powers, the world is increasingly confronted with the willful acts of a trade war, challenges against economic globalization and multilateral trade regime, and increasing instabilities and uncertainties in international political economic and security domains.

When the leaders of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) sit together in Beijing in September this year to map out the bloc's future development and new way forward, much of the world's attention will shift from the ongoing tariff war to the platform of south-south cooperation for the greater good of China-Africa's friendship. This year's FOCAC reflects the importance of mutual support for both China and African countries and the overall future development of the African continent.

In fact, FOCAC's leaders have long realized this and started cooperation soon after the organization became institutionalized platform. In the past decade, FOCAC has been a unique opportunity for China-Africa win-win cooperation.

The Chinese government has been accelerating and intensifying their efforts to make a substantial contribution toward the provision of hard infrastructure across Africa-ranging from distribution grids to pipelines, airport, ports, roads, refineries, railways and power generation, which is having a huge multiplier effect on African economies. As an important part of the forthcoming FOCAC Beijing Summit, the just ended 7th Meeting Forum focused on the theme "China-Africa Relations Over the Course of Reform and Opening-up and the this year's September Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.

In his speech, Liberia representative to the just-ended China-Africa Think Tanks Forum, Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Liberia graduate Studies program, Dr. Josephus Moses Gray discloses that African countries are developing rapidly, and many countries on the continent have taken up leading roles in promoting democracies, political stability, shared values and industrialization.

In his keynote speech delivered at the 2nd Plenary Session of the Forum, Professor Gray said that the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit in Beijing in September should focus on industrialization in Africa, and explore best industrial practice, job creation, win-win cooperation using industrialization as a tool for poverty reduction, and the opportunities that exist for China and Africa to cooperate more beneficially.

He further added that that China-Africa industrial cooperation projects have helped accelerate the industrialization process on the continent, adding that African leaders should respect shared values and considered the plight of their people, adding that African leaderships should attend FOCAC with a clear objectives of areas of support including flagship projects such as road constructions for the African continent connectivity, human resource development, job creations, railways, seaports, airports, industrial parks, and economic zone.

Prof. Gray added that if Africa is not independent economically and relies on foreign aid, it is hard to be independent socially and politically; and without economic development, he said Africa can never overcome abject poverty, huge unemployment and conflicts on the continent.

The forthcoming FOCAC should sure African leaders how to fish than simply give him the fish and ensure that the issue of socio-economic and political "management" will be at the top of the agenda, to help keep the continent on the path with other continents. China and Africa have since then become all-weather friends that understand, support and help each other. Fifty-one of the continent's fifty-three countries have established diplomatic ties with China thus far, the most recent being South Sudan in 2011

China's relations with Africa should adhere to the principles of good governance which include sincerity, inclusiveness, respect for the rule of law, practical results, affinity and good faith and uphold the values of friendship, justice and shared interests. China and Africa "have always belonged to a community of shared values and fruitful future" and "have always been good friends who stand together through thick and thin, good partners who share weal and woe, and good brothers who fully trust each other despite changes in the international landscape.

Profoundly, let us at this forum to extol China's unwavering and productive policy towards Africa of non-interference in other nations' internal affairs nor dictates to Africa to swallow the bitter pills of forced submission or risk the imposition of sanction or a blockage to aid. Nowadays, China remains a shining and deeply admired posture in the realm of mutual respect for others to be master of their own destiny and captain of their own future. Indeed, that praiseworthy.

Let me reiterate, China's involvement is said to serve hope for Africa, as China provides an alternative political-economic framework for Africa while China in return stands to also benefit. Today, dozens of scholars have viewed China's recent involvement in Africa as that of a development partner. Their basis of argument is that China's presence presents an opportunity for development and economic growth, by providing aid to poverty stricken and marginalized countries like my country Liberia has helped to provide visible development assistance such as infrastructural, debt cancellation, scholarships, constructions of roads and bridges and provisions and support to health delivery and education systems.

China and Africa have shared comprehensive consensus on major international issues, common interests and a willingness to deepen their cooperation. The rapid development of the Sino-Africa relationship reveals on-going transitions that facilitate the move towards a new strategic partnership. China also emphasizes the notion of "respect" for African countries, embodied in its policy of noninterference in the domestic affairs of sovereign countries and in an approach to conflict resolution on the continent that is seen as much less confrontational as Western interventions.

Unlike the Western donors who tend to impose Western values like democratic ideas on Africa, China invest and provide aid without much preconditions and interference in their internal affairs, therefore, it is not unimaginable that China is regarded by Africa as a more cooperative and valuable partner to the West. Besides providing loans, China also invests in infrastructure development and many high-visibility projects, that the African leaders generally in favor. Physical infrastructure constructions have been long neglected if not avoided, by Western donors.

FOCAC has become a mechanism of collective consultation and dialogue between China and friendly African countries, providing a new platform of friendly exchange and cooperation between China and Africa. Besides bilateral channels, I am deeply convinced that with the concerted efforts of China and Africa, the forthcoming FOCAS Summit in September this year is bound to bring out more practical results, and breathe new vitality into the friendly relationship between China and Africa.

Meanwhile, the September FOCAC's Summit is expected to welcome new democratically elected African leaders including the President of Africa's oldest state, the Republic of Liberia, His Excellency President George Mannah Weah who cannot wait to attend FOCAC and make the case for China-African win-win situation. Let me share with this Forum a very interested historical fact about Liberia's dynamic political system in Africa.

Interestingly, Liberia is not just the First African's Republic but also the First to democratically elect the First Woman President in Africa, Her Excellency Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirlead. Again, Liberia is the First to elect a Soccer Legend as President in Africa, his Excellency Mr. George Mannah Weah. Again and again, Liberia is indeed the cradle of the birth of the Organization of African Union (OAU) now African Union (AU) originated from as the forward march owes its planted seed to Liberia; while Liberia was the first to produce the First Female President of the General Assembly of the United Nations in person of Mrs. (Amb.) Angie Brooks Randall.

Diplomat should be fully aware of work every day to be able to partner with local businesses and companies in host country to enhance economic growth back home in his country. That is why those tasked with economic activities at embassy must be sharp, cognizant of global prevailing wheeling and dealing; keep check of the financial movers and shakers, be well-schooled and knowledgeable of economic diplomacy which encourages greater cooperation and relations that protect investment and bilateral ties between two states or among companies.

Can this administration regularly rotate diplomats every four years, just as hundreds of states continue managed well. For example, nowadays most of the countries from Africa to America and Asia to Europe and South America to Meddle East regularly rotate diplomats; after four years at one diplomatic mission, the individual is brought home to render service at the foreign ministry while his successor move to replace the person; this strategic is intended to ensure effectiveness and not complacency.

While another concern is the existence of too many diplomatic missions abroad, which place a heavy financial burden on the scarce resources of this poor country Liberia, decisively, maintaining more contacts with non-African states. Studies have shown that Washington, Paris, London or Beijing wouldn't post diplomats to countries of their choice or where diplomats do not have command over the language of the host state or uninformed diplomats to countries of strategic importance in a particular region or continent.

Considering Liberia's current economic burden and scarce resources, President Weah need to establish a core group of financial, legal, foreign policy and diplomatic experts and political connoisseurs to review the past regime action to maintain existence of too many embassies and diplomatic missions in one region while the country has no embassy or diplomatic mission in other region or continents.

For instance, the existed several missions in the Middle East countries including Qatar, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, while Liberia has no diplomatic missions or embassy in South America, Central America, Australia, Scandinavia and Oceania regions. At present, diplomats are engaged in an expanding range of functions, from negotiation, communication, consular, representation, and reporting to observation, merchandise trade and services promotion, cultural exchange, and public relations. Diplomats restrict their interactions and deal solely with other members of an exclusive club, comprised of governmental officials, fellow diplomats, and, occasionally, members of the business community.

A nation's diplomat required function as his or her country's eyes, ears, and voice abroad, must be aware of national interests and values while being able to understand foreign politics and cultures. At the same time, the skills required of professional diplomats include intelligence, tact, discretion, circumspection, patience, self-control, teamwork, adaptability, creative imagination, the ability to signal and communicate messages precisely to the target audience.

In certain cases, diplomats also give occasional speeches to members of the community of their host country. It is admirable profession of integrate, intelligent, honesty, political and edification elegance, free of corrupt and other unwholesome practices especially greed for financial gains. But, now new issues such as technical matters are coming to the forefront. Out of this sphere of unfolding developments and uncertainties a diplomat, in this modern era, should obtain the 'requisite tools' of education, skills, and a marketable reputation.

Evidently, diplomat presents his or her government's policies to the foreign and domestic publics in a persuasive and persuading tone, not a demanding one, as such; a diplomat always represents the interest of the nation but at the same time cannot ignore the public opinion on national and international issues that go beyond defined borders.

Diplomat should be fully aware of work every day to be able to partner with local businesses and companies in host country to enhance economic growth back home in his country. That is why those tasked with economic activities at embassy must be sharp, cognizant of global prevailing wheeling and dealing; keep check of the financial movers and shakers, be well-schooled and knowledgeable of economic diplomacy which encourages greater cooperation and relations that protect investment and bilateral ties between two states or among companies.

Diplomacy serves states in three useful channels of communication including means of negotiating agreements between states, a source of information about what is happening in host states and representing the interest of the sending state.

But considering Liberia's present poor economic situation, economic diplomacy should be given greater priority in our international relations with powerful states and government since economic diplomacy is now key factor in the development of contemporary international politics. It is clear that economic and commercial interests, particularly those related to investment, trade , exports, protection and assistance could be essential aspects of the diplomatic activities of a considerable number of countries.

Diplomacy today takes place among multiple sites of authority, power, and influence; at its essence is the conduct of relationships, using peaceful means, by and among international actors, at least one of whom is usually governmental. The typical international actors are states and the bulk of diplomacy involves relations between states directly, or between states, international organizations, and other international actors.

About the Author:

Josephus Moses Gbala-hinnih Gray is an Assistant Professor at the University of Liberia Graduate Studies Program. He is a native born Liberian, hails from the Southeastern village of Kayken Chiefdom in Barclayville, Grand Kru County.

He is an author, professor, journalist, diplomat and scholar with a wealth of rich credentials including a doctorate in International relations from Paris, France. He has authored two books, published Two Graduate Theses and a 600-page Doctoral Dissertation on the theme:

"Geopolitics of African Oil and Energy: China and America New Strategic Interests in Africa". He has written extensively and published over 50 articles on variety of contemporary issues. He can be contacted at Email: graymoses@yahoo.com or +231(77824437)

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