9 July 2019

Liberia: Two Overhead Bridges in Sight

Foreign Minister Findley and State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi posed for a handshake after bilateral talks. (PHOTO CREDIT: Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

... As Chinese Gov't turns over "new" Ministerial Complex

The Government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) has pledged its continued support to the Liberian government and its five-year strategic plan, the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), a dispatch has said.

As expressed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, through Foreign Minister Wang Yi, China is committed to the concept of sincerity, real results and the value of friendship and shared interests, all geared towards win-win cooperation.

Wang reiterated that China's cooperation with Africa is sincere; noting that they have always followed the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, engaged Africa under the framework of South-South cooperation.

According to a dispatch from Liberia's Embassy near Beijing, China re-echoed its commitment when Foreign Minister Gbehzohngar Findley held bilateral discussions with his Chinese counterpart, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the fringes of the Coordinators' Meeting on the Implementation of the Follow-up Actions of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing recently.

With this commitment to further strengthen cooperation, according to the dispatch, the two countries signed an agreement in which China provided a "gratuitous assistance" of two hundred million Chinese Yuan (¥200,000,000), approximately US$29.5 million to Liberia as the first tranche for the implementation of projects agreed to during the bilateral meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and President George Weah during the latter's visit to Beijing for the FOCAC Summit in September 2018.

This first tranche has been transferred into a joint account at China Development Bank to be administered by both governments for the implementation of these projects, including two overhead bridges to ease vehicular traffic around the new ministerial complex and the SKD Boulevard, respectively and the provision of food aid to be monetized and used for development purposes.

Mr. Wang Yi promised to increase cooperation and to solidify the exceptional friendly ties existing between China and Liberia.

He further pledged the amount of two million Chinese Yuan (¥2 million), approximately US$300,000, - "in kind" - to the country's foreign ministry to enhance its productivity, and to build capacity.

In response, Foreign Minister Findley thanked Mr. Wang on behalf of President Weah and the Liberian Government for China's continued support to the country's development agenda.

He re-emphasized Liberia's adherence to its "One-China" policy, which has deepened the relations between both countries.

Findley also thanked Mr. Wang, specifically highlighting his country's enormous assistance in the fight against Ebola that ravaged the three Mano River Union countries -- Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea; as well as the important role played in the post-Ebola reconstruction efforts.

Minister Findley emphasized Liberia's preparedness to work with China in promoting the objectives of FOCAC.

He expressed thanks to China's deep interest in building strong ties with Africa, particularly Liberia; noting that in April, both countries concluded a memorandum of understanding at which time Liberia formally joined the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Minister of State Nathaniel McGill signed the MoU on behalf of government when he attended the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing.

The Coordinators' Meeting, which brought together ministerial officials from 53 African countries and their Chinese counterparts, discussed the implementation of the 2018 FOCAC agenda on trade, security and development.

At last September's FOCAC Summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping committed US$60 billion in a mix of grants, loans and special funds to African countries.

He also encouraged Chinese companies to make at least US$10 billion investment in Africa through 2021.

In another development, the PRC Government has officially turned over the China-aided Ministerial Complex to the Government of Liberia.

Meanwhile, China shall be responsible for the project's quality warranty for the next 24 months. Assistant Minister for International Cooperation, Sherdrick Jackson, signed on behalf of the Liberian Government, while Zeng Huacheng, Deputy Director General of the Agency for International Economic Cooperation at the Ministry of Commerce, signed on behalf of the Chinese Government.

Minister Findley and Ambassador Dudley McKinley Thomas observed the ceremony.

The construction of a ministerial complex as a China-aided project to Liberia first commenced with an Exchange of Letters signed between both governments on September 11, 2012.

Another supplemental letter was signed on October 9, 2014. The China Jiangsu Provisional Construction Company, Limited, was commissioned to implement the project, which commenced on October 25, 2016 and was completed on April 20, 2019.

After a joint acceptance inspection, both governments agreed that the project has met the requirement for acceptance and handover; with the Chinese fully fulfilling its obligations as stipulated in another Exchange of Letters and a Project Implementation Agreement signed with the Liberian Government on March 8, 2016.

Following a successful Coordinators' Meeting in Beijing, Minister Findley joined his Chinese counterpart and other African colleagues where he attended the first China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo held in Changsha, Hunan Province.

The expo, launched under the framework of FOCAC, was attended by more than 1,500 foreign guests, over 5,000 Chinese as well as over 3,500 exhibitors from 39 African countries. The Expo established a new mechanism for economic and trade cooperation between China and African countries.

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