As Chinese Lunar New Year celebrated…


Sierra Leone assures China of better relationship

February 8, 2016  By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

As China celebrates the Chinese Lunar New Year, which is known as the ‘year of the fire monkey’, Sierra Leone’s Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister, Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara, has on behalf of the government of Sierra Leone assured the Chinese Ambassador in the country that Sierra Leone would continue to foster the good relationship between the two countries.

Speaking during a dinner hosted by the Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Zhao Yanbo at their embassy in Freetown, Dr. Kamara congratulated China on the auspicious occasion of celebrating the 2016 Chinese Lunar New Year, noting that he believed the ‘year of the fire monkey’ would bring good tidings in the relationship between Sierra Leone and China.

He said one of the main characteristics of the ‘year of the fire monkey’ is ambition, and urged Ambassador Zhao for both countries to be very ambitious in promoting the relationship between them to a height equal to none in Africa, as they pursue the ambition of President Ernest Bai Koroma in projecting a strategic partnership with his friend, President Xi Jinping.

He said his government had set for themselves a great ambition of ensuring that they continue to strengthen relationship between their two countries so as to leverage the advantage contained therein, and to fully access the plans and programmes set out in the ‘Action Plan’ of the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in advancing Sierra Leone’s development trajectory.

“While Sierra Leone and China continue to enjoy sustained peace and political stability, let me re-assure you, Mr. Ambassador, of President Koroma’s strong  commitment  to seeing the relationship flourish to the mutual benefit of our both nations, and as a show of reciprocity, President Koroma wants me to reiterate through you Mr. Ambassador, his genuine desire to pay an official visit to President Xi Jinping as soon as it is convenient to, in order to formally  thank him for his personal and exemplary role in the fight against Ebola and to discuss other issues of socio-economic and political importance to our two countries,” said Dr. Kamara.

He added that, “Sierra Leone continues to look forward to the support of China in the realisation of transformative project including the Mamamah International Airport project, the Hainan Rubber, Rokel water project, Port extension project, the Youth Village and the energy enhancement project. These projects will significantly strengthen Sierra Leone’s capacity to address the high rate of youth unemployment in the country and reducing poverty.”

He thanked China for her role in the fight against the eradication of the Ebola virus, as the country was indeed the first and biggest donor in the fight against the virus.

Speaking earlier, Ambassador Zhao said the Chinese Spring Festival was a very important traditional festival in China just like Christmas in the western world, and that according to the Chinese Zodiac, “2016 is the year of the monkey and Chinese people think monkeys are very smart, intelligent, brave and energetic”. He said the Chinese New Year 2016 would be the year of vitality, progress and fortune.

He said 2015 was a special year in China’s development as the Chinese people continued striving to build a moderately prosperous society in all aspects, as well as realising the great revival of the Chinese nation.

He said 2015 also witnessed the fruitful development of China-Sierra Leone relations in various fields, as both countries united and stood together and fought tenaciously against the Ebola epidemic.

He said politically, their mutual trust continues to strengthen with frequent high-level exchanges as the Chinese president held a formal meeting with President Koroma at the United Nations headquarters last September, while “the Chinese Foreign Minister paid a successful visit to Sierra Leone”.

He noted that economically, China was focused on the Post-Ebola Recovery Plan proposed by President Koroma, and that the Chinese president had announced that China would construct a West Africa Tropical Disease Research Centre in Sierra Leone, while 10 more doctors would be deployed at the Jui specialist hospital, just outside Freetown.