By Ibrahim Kabba Turay
The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Sierra Leone has held a media reception for journalists from various media houses on their 4th Session of Face to Face with China, focusing on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The session was held on Tuesday, 17th October, at the Atlantic Lumley Hotel in Freetown.
Charge d’ Affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone, Li Xiaoyong, said the Belt and Road Initiative becomes the focus of the world, and that people wanted to know why the Belt and Road Initiative is so attractive and what it has brought to the world today.
He said in March,2013, President Xi Jinping proposed the vision of a global community of shared future and that in September and October that year, he raised the initiatives of joining with others to build a Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative or BRI).
He continued that the Belt and Road Initiative is a creative development that takes on and carries forward the spirit of the ancient silk routes, two of the great achievements in human history and civilization.
He said the BRI enriches the ancient spirit with the zeitgeist and culture of the new era, and provides a platform for building a global community of shared future, adding that it has evolved from ideas into actions, from a vision into reality, and from a general framework into concrete projects.
“China stands ready to work with other countries including Sierra Leone to pursue closer and more fruitful cooperation under the BRI framework, implement the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative, and build an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity. Our goals are to pass on the torch of peace from generation to generation, sustain development, ensure that civilizations flourish, and build a global community of shared future,” he maintained.
Chief Director at the Ministry of Trade and industry, Emmanuel Billy Konjoh, in his statement, thanked the Chinese invitation extended to the ministry.
He said the Ministry of Trade and Industry was extremely pleased and cherishes the long-standing relationship between the People’s Republic of China and Sierra Leone on different aspect of development.
He said China stands as Sierra Leone major trading partner in both export and import data, adding that the Belt and Road Initiative announced by President Xi Jinping in 2013 seeks to further expand, solidify and create equal trade opportunities with a win-win result for all the inclusivity, connectivity, speed and efficiency.
He said the BRI will only make for an effective multilateral trading system that gives everyone fair opportunity to be competitive.
He said Sierra Leone has witnessed the notable results of cooperation between China and Sierra Leone, including the construction of the Youyi Building, the National Stadium, Mange Bridge, the Magbass Sugar complex, and the RSLAF headquarters in the 1970s and 80s; the China- Sierra Leone Friendship Road, Bo Stadium, Jui Hospital
He concluded that they have witnessed the expansion of trade and economic cooperation.
“Our bilateral trade volume has now reached over 500 million US Dollars, and the accumulated direct investment from China to Sierra Leone has reached 4 billion US Dollars since 1973,” he said.
He continued that the Chinese Government has dispatched more than 500 Chinese medical personnel to Sierra Leone under the health assistance program, and since 1976, China has provided government scholarships for over 1000 Sierra Leonean students to study in China.
He said the joint efforts of the countries and international organizations participating in it have opened up a new space for global economic growth, created a new platform for international trade and investment and ushered in new practices in global economic governance.
“It has made new contributions to promoting people’s wellbeing universally, and provided Chinese solutions for building a global community of shared future. These Chinese solutions provided have impacted so many Sierra Leoneans since Sierra Leone and other African countries inked memorandums of understanding (MOUs) on jointly developing the Belt and Road with China during the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). Since then, the economic outlook was bright. Investors returned in their droves and year on year, gross domestic product (GDP) rose,” he said.
“Recently, as part of the initiative, our staffs have participated in series of seminars in China on trade related matters which served as capacity building in supporting Government to be better and deliver its manifesto commitments. On that note, Government will continue to work with the People Republic of China to improve on inclusivity of Trade and the existing infrastructures in the framework of the One Belt One Road Initiative. Let me conclude by thanking the P.R of China for extending invitation to me and to make a statement at this very important bilateral session with China.”