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China-Sierra Leone Trade and Economic Cooperation

April 18, 2019

By Zhang Xueqian

Recently, some Sierra Leone local media quoted and carried an article titled World Bank/IMF advice against another Chinese loan, in which the author or the reporter made irresponsible comments on the Belt and Road Initiative(BRI) and reasoned the proposed funding model of the expansion work of Freetown’s Queen Elizabeth II Quay project. I do not want to refute the several points that are either baseless or questionable in the article, but would like to share with the readers and the public some of my observations on China-Sierra Leone cooperation.

First, since the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Sierra Leone 48 years ago, the bilateral relations have been constantly strengthened and enhanced. China-Sierra Leone relations are based on friendliness, sincerity, equality and mutual benefit. China attaches great importance to developing trade and economic cooperation with Sierra Leone. The Chinese companies coming to explore mutual beneficial and win-win cooperation with their Sierra Leonean counterparts in accordance with business principles and market laws is not a sin and should not be maliciously attacked.

Second, as is known to all, the BRI since its inception, has been well received worldwide with a total of 126 countries and 29 international organizations (including 37 African countries and the African Union Commission) having signed relevant cooperation documents with China. The BRI is guided by the principle of common consultation, joint contribution and pursuit of shared benefits. There is no solid evidence to prove that any certain country fall into the so-called debt trap by cooperating with China. On the contrary, African countries have greatly enhanced their development capacities by partnering with China. Those who have a habit of pointing an accusing finger at China should reflect on what they themselves have done for Africa and what are the real reasons for Africa’s underdevelopment. While conducting cooperation with any country, the Chinese government and the Chinese companies fully respect the will of the host country and will never impose their ideas or conditions onto the latter. It is no exception when we conduct cooperation with Sierra Leone.

Third, China is one of the important international development partners of Sierra Leone, and China-Sierra Leone bilateral cooperation forms an integral part of the international cooperation with Sierra Leone. I’m of the view that China and Sierra Leone are sovereign countries and China-Sierra Leone bilateral cooperation does not need a third party to make decision on their behalf, nor does it need a “referee” to make a judgement. Any attempts to sow the seed of disaccord between China and Sierra Leone or to undermine China-Sierra Leone cooperation will not go anywhere.

Zhang Xueqian is the Counsellor for Economic and Commercial Affairs of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Sierra Leon.