In recent time, the Chinese have been creating serious interest in Liberia, a country once considered as United States ally following its recognition in 1862, 15 years after its establishment as a sovereign nation, since then the two nations have over the years shared very close diplomatic, economic, and military ties.
As a result of this tie, Liberians were always interesting in visiting the United States; while considering this world’s super power as their safe heaven; the influx of Liberians in the United States during the country’s senseless civil war grew to the extent that many of those who fled their home country (Liberia) have refused to return.
The influx of Chinese in Liberia, and their interest to supplement the efforts of the George Weah’s CDC-led government in the country’s infrastructural development, seems worrisome for the United States, according to a diplomatic source, in spite of the ongoing the trade practices and their effects which the U.S. claims are unfair are the growing trade deficit, the theft of intellectual property, and the forced transfer of American technology to China.
China is the largest trading nation in the world and the top destination for foreign investment, in 2015, 124 countries, including the United States, have China as their largest trading partner, Liberia dropped diplomatic relations with the ROC on October 12, 2003 and reestablished ties with the People’s Republic of China. This move was seen largely as a result of the PRC’s lobbying in the UN and plans to deploy a peacekeeping force in Liberia.
Many of Liberia’s damaged infrastructural in recent times have been reshaped by the Chinese, with the latest visit of a Chinese delegation from the China National People’s Congress currently in Liberia describing the existing relationship between the PRC and the Republic of Liberia as having ‘taken roots’ opting total readiness to enhance exchanges with Liberia on China’s remarkable achievements.
Speaking to group of journalists in Monrovia, Mr. Wu Weihua, the Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), leading a four-man Chinese delegation, said the NPC is ready to enhance exchanges of their government experiences with Liberia to fight poverty and backwardness, arguing that both countries faced poverty and backwardness.
“China and Liberia friendship has taken roots in peoples’ heart.” Mr. Wu added. “China is ready to enhance exchanges of government experience with Liberia. China and Liberia are both developing countries faced with the same past of emerging from poverty and backwardness and achieving prosperity and developments.”
He added: “But over the past seven decades, since the founding of the People’s Republic, China has made remarkable achievements from twists and turns and, in the process, have accumulated some experience and will be happy to share with their African brothers.”
Other members of the Chinese delegation include Mr. Ren Jianhua, Head of the Discipline and Supervision of the NPC, Mr. Liu Zhenwei, Vice Chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee of the NPC, and Mr. Liu Qian, vice Chairman of the Education, Science, Culture and Public Health Committee.
In a special statement on Monday in the House’s Chamber, Mr. Wu told the leaderships and members of the House of Representatives and the Senate that China is committed and will continuously uphold the ideal of sincerity, friendship and equality. He said China will pursue common interest and put friendship first as well as will be committed to openness and inclusiveness.
“No interference in African countries’ pursuit of development paths to state their national conditions; no interference of African countries’ internal affairs; and no account of political strings through assistance, no seeking of selfish of political gains in investment of financing cooperation with Africa,” Mr. Wu indicated.
Mr. Wu said the result of the China and Liberia friendships caused the scholarships of over 2,800 Liberians in several technical fields and China has built infrastructures including Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex, Jackson F. Doe Hospital, the Ministry of Health, the Fendall Campus of the University of Liberia, and the Annexes of the Capitol Building of the Legislature.
However, many Liberians who spoke to the GNN, considering the unique ties between the United States of America and Liberia over the years are expressing fear as to the current relationship between Liberia and China, noting that with this level of relationship growing between both countries (China and Liberia) is alarming, hoping that this won’t cripple the ties between the United States and Liberia.
“The Chinese are seriously creating interest in Liberia; providing economic support seems overwhelming, since the ascendancy of this government the Chinese have created what I must call a multiplicity of interest making sure that they are appreciated more by Liberians as compare to the United States,” Amos Q. Gibson, a resident of Monrovia speaking to the GNN said.
“You know America is like our second country, we must not turn our backs against this great nation; she has done a lot for us during the nearly fifteen years of our bloody civil war which made over 250,000 Liberians to flee their country. We must be grateful to this great nation, for me America will forever be my country that I will cherish,” Muslyn Sampson, a student of the University of Liberia in a chat with the GNN noted.
Even though, Liberia and United States relationships became strained between 1971 and 1980 due to Liberian president William R. Tolbert’s establishment of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries, but its relationship with Liberia has always been intact.
The U.S.-Liberia relationship dates back nearly 200 years and is stronger than ever as both countries worked together to get to zero Ebola cases, Liberia, under the than leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has emerged from over a decade of war to be a key champion of democracy, peace, and development. The U.S. is Liberia’s leading partner, having invested over $1 billion in bilateral assistance since 2003.
With this latest development into Liberia-China relations, lots are wondering that the US is closely watching such renewed friendship which is on a ‘4G speed’ connection.
Writes: Joel Cholo Brooks