By: Fredrick P. W. Gaye,(China-Africa Press Center)
Liberia’s 2017 presidential and general elections, expected to take place in October, are widely viewed as critical to the country’s success or failure.
While the elections serve as a way to democratic transition in many years, concerns are growing on who to take the mantle of authorities of the country to build on current gains including maintaining the right external relations.
It is based on this that some foreign missions near the country’s capital are putting Liberians on the alert as to which diplomacy would continue to assist the country following the elections.
One of them is the Political Counselor and Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China near Monrovia, Mr. Li Zhuang, who has put Liberians on the alert, warning against establishing diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
Though Liberia maintains the “One-China” policy, Li said, “It is known that Taiwan authorities still have underground information channels and brokers in Liberia now as they would make use of the October 2017 Presidential and Legislative elections through Dollar Diplomacy.”
The Chinese envoy made the statement on Friday, March 31, 2017, at the Edward Wilmot Bladen intellectual forum organized by the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) in Monrovia.
Li pointed out that Taiwan authorities are prepared to do business with some politicians, especially presidential candidates by providing campaign funds in order to establish or maintain so-called “diplomatic relations” when they come to power.
He noted that Taiwanese authorities are attempting to enlarge their international space by making use of some countries’ political situations and temporary economic difficulties through “dollar diplomacy” or other means.
Speaking on the topic: “One China Policy: Its Impact In Africa,” the Chinese diplomat said in this context, both China and Africa, including Liberia, are required to be on an alert of the true motives of Taiwan and deal with the Taiwan issue cautiously.
Li said Taiwan authorities will do this by supporting politicians with campaign money which will set obstacles and also make troubles in the development of China-Liberia relations.
He indicated that some Liberians do not understand the one China policy comprehensively for their personnel interests or are blinded by Taiwanese authorities.
“They might have some incorrect understanding on the Sino-Liberia relations, and could therefore tamper with smooth development of the bilateral relations,” he noted.
He pointed out that historically, China-Liberia relations were hurt and suspended twice because of the Taiwan issue and the Liberian people did not benefit from the so-called “diplomatic relations”.
Li said that the Chinese Government appreciates that the Liberia Government adheres firmly to the one China policy, and added that they are willing to develop friendly relations with all Liberians and political parties on the basis of a one-China policy and to further strengthen China-Liberia partnership.
He added: “We hope that the Liberian people and the political parties will continue to cherish what we have achieved over the past 14 years since our two countries resumed the diplomatic ties.”
According to him, adhering to the One-China Principle is in line with the common interests of China and African countries, “Today, 52 African countries adhere to One-China Policy, we are gratified and heartened by the progresses in a wide range of China-African cooperation.”
He recalled that in 1971, the UN Assembly adopted the Resolution 2758 which expelled the representatives of the Taiwan authorities and restored the seat and all lawful rights of the government of PRC in the United Nations.
This, Li noted, was a milestone of China-African friendship, which will go down in history and still remains fresh in Chinese people’s minds.
“Today, 52 African countries adhere to One-China Policy, we are gratified and heartened by the progresses in a wide range of China-African cooperation, he indicated.
Li further recalled that in August 2005, the National Transitional Legislative Assembly of Liberia adopted unanimously a Resolution which recognized the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legitimate Government representing the whole of China.
“The Resolution has demonstrated a very clear and strong commitment of the Liberian people and government to the One-China policy, which has laid down a strong political foundation for the establishment and development of a new long-term stable relationship of mutual benefit and all-round cooperation between our two countries and two peoples. Dear friends, allow me to recall some important events in China-Liberian relations,” he said.
For the deployment of UNMIL in 2003, Li explained that China, as a permanent member of the Security Council of the UN, voted in favor of Liberia and consistently supported the peacekeeping operations in Liberia afterwards.
When Ebola crisis broke out in 2014, China was the first country which provided assistance to Liberia, the diplomat narrated. Currently, he stated that several major projects are underway, “our cooperation in security, agriculture, education, health-care, trade,etc., has made a rapid progress and achieved tangible outcomes which are beneficial to the Liberian people”.
Also speaking at forum, the Managing Editor of the Inquirer Newspaper, Mr. Philip Wesseh, challenged Liberian journalists to read and know more about the One-China policy in order to educate the public.
Wesseh said the One-China Policy has increased PRC’s assistance to Liberia in recent years and maintaining would move the country to a higher height.
Wesseh also informed journalists to read more about the policy in order to educate the public.
Meanwhile, Wesseh has launched an appeal to the Government of the People’s Republic of China, through its Embassy near Monrovia, to expand its ongoing media empowerment by providing scholarships and other training opportunities to more Liberian journalists for further studies in China. This, he said, will further promote the Sino-Liberia relations as well as help in educating Liberians on the One-China policy and its future because they (journalists) are the main channels for information dissemination.
The One-China Principle had been evolved in the course of the Chinese people’s just struggle to safeguard China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is the premise and basis for China to maintain and develop friendly relations with countries all over the world.
At present, 174 countries in the world maintain diplomatic relations with China in conformity with the principle on One-China Policy.