LIBERIA: Ellen Receives Letters of Credence from New Chinese Ambassador, Zhang Yue

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has received the Letters of Credence from the new Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to Liberia, His Excellency Mr. Zhang Yue.

According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf received in audience His Excellency Ambassador Zhang at a ceremony in the President’s temporary office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Monday, February 10.

President Sirleaf, in a Statement, said Liberia and China enjoy a dynamic and flourishing partnership. She reaffirmed Liberia’s One China Policy, saying, “Liberia’s One-China Policy has been unwaveringly reaffirmed by our National Legislature, demonstrating the solid support of the Liberian people of our friendship and cooperation with China.”

She praised the important role the Government of China has played and continues to play in Liberia’s recovery process, and expressed deep appreciation for China’s contribution to the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and the recent arrival of the Chinese Contingent in the country.

President Sirleaf also highlighted Chinese private investment here, which is proving critical in the area of jobs creation and economic revitalization. She named China Union as among the first to give Liberia a major vote of confidence with the signing of a US$2.6 billion investment agreement with the Government for the rehabilitation of Bong Mines.

She noted that Chinese small enterprise companies are helping to broaden the country’s economic and tax base, and Chinese clinics are contributing to health care delivery. “The state-of-the-art Jackson F. Doe Hospital in Tappita, Nimba County, constructed with Chinese assistance, has made that county a medical tourism destination for Liberia and our neighboring countries,” the Liberian leader pointed out, adding that China has also provided training and academic scholarships for Liberians.

President Sirleaf used the occasion to highlight major landmark projects the two countries have signed, including the construction of the US$60 million modern government Ministerial Complex to house 11 ministries and agencies, and a US$16 million project for the rehabilitation of the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex. Other projects include the extension of the Monrovia Vocational Training Center (MVTC), and the extension of the Capitol Building to accommodate the expanded membership of the National Legislature.

In the area of communications, the Liberian leader said China has given support to the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) to upgrade its facilities. Discussions are now under way to transition LBS from analogue to a fully digital system which would cover the entire country.

President Sirleaf also touched on the complex of modern buildings at the University of Liberia Fendell Campus which, she said, stands as enduring testimony to Liberia-China friendship, and generations of Liberian youths passing through those gates will forever cherish this friendship. The Liberian leader said China also continues to provide numerous scholarship opportunities for quality studies in undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate programs in prestigious Chinese universities and institutions for hundreds of Liberians, while at the same time the Chinese Embassy has initiated the Chinese Ambassador Scholarship Scheme for deserving Liberian youths to attend various institutions of higher learning in Liberia.

As Liberia observes its Armed Forces Day Anniversary on Tuesday, February 11, President Sirleaf disclosed that the Government has just received a very generous donation of about US$4 million worth of equipment and machines from the Government of the People’s Republic of China for the Engineering Battalion of the AFL. “The equipment will certainly enhance the capacity of the AFL in carrying out civil works which are an integral part of its mission for national development,” she pointed out.

“Indeed, Mr. Ambassador,” President Sirleaf said, “relations between our two countries have been mutually beneficial as we continue to scale ever new heights. Our One China Policy, referred to earlier, remains the bedrock of our interaction.  We have welcomed and embraced Chinese companies for the construction of major roads and bridges in Liberia, with Government of Liberia/Partnership funding.  China has become a favored destination for small Liberian business people and traders.  As a result, the unrestricted import of Chinese products into Liberia has contributed to a lopsided balance of trade between the two countries in favor of China.”

Continuing, the President urged, “We trust that the unequal trade balance will self-correct in the very near future as China Union begins to ship iron ore from Bong Mines.  Liberia also needs access to funding under the FOCAC [Forum on China-Africa Cooperation] soft loan facility for its priority projects for national transformation,” she stressed, adding that such projects will enable the country to take a step up on the value chain for its exports as well as attract the establishment of more Chinese manufacturing industries in Liberia.

She expressed optimism that Ambassador Zhang’s tour of duty will take Liberia-China relations to a new level of understanding and bilateral cooperation for the mutual benefit of the two countries and peoples. “Let me therefore assure you of our Government’s fullest support and any assistance you may stand in need of to ensure the success of your mission,” she stated.
 
President Sirleaf asked Ambassador Zhang to convey to His Excellency Xi Jinping, President of the People's Republic of China, and to the gallant people of China, her heartfelt thanks and gratitude for an enduring Liberia-China friendship.

Speaking earlier, H.E. Mr. Zhang Yue, in a speech he read out, said China-Liberia relationship has enjoyed rapid development in recent years, with increased political trust and deeper exchanges and cooperation in various fields, bringing real benefits to the two countries and peoples. “China expresses its appreciation and thanks to Liberia for its firm commitment to the One-China Policy and valuable support to China on issues concerning China’s core interests,” he said, adding, “China values its relations with Liberia and stands ready to work with the Liberian side to deepen friendship, enhance mutual trust, expand cooperation and bring China-Liberia friendly and cooperative relations to a new level.”

Ambassador Zhang Yue said he was greatly honored to have been appointed Ambassador of the PRC to Liberia, noting that he is aware of the heavy responsibility. He promised that during his tenure, he will exert all efforts to consolidate and develop China-Liberia friendly and cooperative relations.

His Excellency Zhang Yue (53), who replaces Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, previously served as Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Bangkok, Thailand. Before that, he served as Minister-Counselor, Embassy of the PRC in the Republic of India. He previously served as Counselor, Department of International Organizations and Conferences, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, PRC; and Counselor at the Permanent Mission of the PRC to the World Trade Organization. He’s married and has one daughter.

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