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Opening Up New Vistas for China-Sierra Leone Friendly and Cooperative Relations

(From Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone)

2014/05/21

Zhao Yanbo, Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone

From May 4 to 11, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Ethiopia, Nigeria, Angola, Kenya, and AU Headquarters. This was another important visit by Chinese leaders to Africa following the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping last March. It is a fruitful visit that nearly 60 cooperation agreements and contracts were signed by the Chinese and African sides covering a wide range of areas. It is a more landmark visit that has further mapped out China's fundamental policy framework for developing its relations with Africa, and will carry forward China-Africa relations to broader and greater development.

During the visit, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang vowed to earmark half of China's foreign aid to Africa without preconditions, and stated that the relationship between China and Africa is one marked by shared interests, common development and cultural exchanges.

He proposed four principles, namely, treating each other with full sincerity and as complete equals, enhancing solidarity and mutual trust, jointly pursuing inclusive development, and innovating on practical cooperation, which will guide China-Africa relations to a new era. He also identified six areas - industry, finance, poverty reduction, ecological protection, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security for the two sides to intensify China-Africa cooperation.

In the area of industrial cooperation, China and Africa can increase the trade volume between the two sides and China's direct investment in Africa to US$400 billion and US$100 billion respectively by 2020. To achieve the alignment of industrial development strategies between China and Africa, China will promote the development of labor-intensive and manufacturing sectors, work for the transformation and upgrading of energy and resource industries, and get actively involved in highway, high-speed railway, telecommunications, electric power and other projects in Africa.

In the area of financial cooperation, China has decided to provide an additional US$10 billion credit line to African countries for mutually agreed projects, raising the total amount of promised credit to US$30 billion, and also inject another US$2 billion into the China-Africa Development Fund, raising it to US$5 billion by the end of next year.

In the area of poverty reduction, China is ready to share its experience with African countries on poverty reduction. China will join the AU and African countries in jointly implementing the "High Quality and High Yield Agriculture Demonstration Project" aimed at upgrading agricultural technology and farm output in Africa, as the same time, devote greater part of its assistance to Africa to providing drinking water, preventing and treating infectious diseases and other areas related to people's livelihood.

In the area of ecological and environmental protection, China has committed to a grant of US$10 million in support of closer technical cooperation and experience sharing between China and African countries. China will also step up cooperation on ecological and environmental protection and help develop clean energy and renewable energy so as to build a green Africa that enjoys sustainable development.

In the area of cultural and people-to-people exchanges, China will speed up cultural interactions with African countries, and make such brand programs as the China-Africa Cultural Cooperation Partnership Program and the China-Africa People-to-People Friendship Action a success. China will work through cooperation programs in science, technology and education as well as enhanced vocational training and other means to help African countries improve the caliber of their human resources. China welcomes more African friends to go to China for visits, study, training and business.

In the area of enhancing peace and security, China will earnestly implement the Initiative on China-Africa Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Security, support the collective security mechanisms in Africa, expand bilateral cooperation in personnel training, intelligence sharing and joint exercises and training, and assist Africa to enhance its capacity building in peacekeeping, counter-terrorism and counter-piracy.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit is undoubtedly a new opportunity for China and Sierra Leone to explore various ways to start a new round of the mutually-beneficial cooperation between the two countries. Our two countries should prepare ourselves for this opportunity.

China and Sierra Leone enjoy a time-honored friendship. The friendship has been strengthened in recent years featured with frequent high-level contacts and exchanges, fruitful cooperation in economic, cultural, infrastructural and many other areas, and frequent people-to-people exchanges. Sierra Leone has scored remarkable achievements in its socio-economic development, and is well on the fast track of development.

China's adequate capital, a strong industrial basis, and sophisticated technologies and equipment can well match Sierra Leone's advantages in natural resources, markets and labor costs. The mutually complementary and relative comparative advantages of China and Sierra Leone will allow both sides to seize the current opportunity to expand our cooperation and seek common development.

Both sides should jointly study the new ideas, principles and proposals initiated by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, and come up with specific proposals in expanding pragmatic cooperation in relevant areas such as manufacturing industry, agriculture, tourism, mining, poverty reduction, peace and security, etc.

The Chinese people are working hard to realize the Chinese dream of great national renewal, while Sierra Leonean people are striving for realizing the socio-economic goals enshrined in the Agenda for Prosperity under the leadership of President Ernest Bai Koroma.

As a sincere friend and reliable partner of Sierra Leone, China would like to join hands with the Sierra Leonean side to follow up new principles and measures for China-Africa cooperation, explore the potential for bilateral relations, and promote mutually beneficial cooperation in all areas so as to open up new vistas for China-Sierra Leone friendly and cooperative relations.

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