Inherent Friendship and Deepen Cooperation: Writing a New Chapter in China-Sierra Leone Relations

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By H.E. Wang Qing,Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone

At the invitation of H.E. Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, H.E. Julius Maada Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, paid a state visit to China from February 27 to March 2, 2024. It has been 6 years since the head of Sierra Leone visited China last time. The two presidents had an in-depth exchange of views on China-Sierra Leone relations, China-Africa relations and international and regional issues of shared interest, which reached extensive and important common understandings. This visit has written an important chapter in the history of China-Sierra Leone friendship and unveiled a new era for the consolidation of bilateral relations and diversification of practical cooperation, which injected new momentum to the deepening of the China-Sierra Leone Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership.

Friendship is the main theme of this visit. There is an ancient Chinese poem that goes, “Distance cannot divide true friends who feel close even when thousands of miles apart.” Although China and Sierra Leone are separated by vast oceans, the two nations enjoyed a long history of friendship. As President Xi Jinping pointed out, since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Sierra Leone 53 years ago, the two sides have supported each other on issues concerning their core interests and major concerns, carried out efficient cooperation in the fields of economic and social development, coordinated closely on issues such as world peace and development, and worked together to fight against Ebola and the COVID-19 pandemic. China-Sierra Leone relations are a good example of China-Africa solidarity and cooperation. President Bio said China is a trustworthy and reliable friend. The two sides have always respected each other, treated each other as equals, and have a profound traditional friendship.

Cooperation is the overall tone of this visit. During the visit, President Xi Jinping and President Bio witnessed the signing of bilateral cooperation documents in the fields of the Belt and Road Initiative, agriculture, economic development, and the implementation of the Global Development Initiative as well as China-Sierra Leone joint statement on deepening comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, which draw a grand blueprint for China-Sierra Leone practical cooperation in the next stage. President Xi Jinping emphasized that China firmly supports the Sierra Leonean people in pursuing a development path suited to their national conditions. He said China stands ready to strengthen exchanges with Sierra Leone on national governance, and work with Sierra Leone to continue supporting each other’s major concerns and safeguarding their respective sovereignty, security and development interests. China is also willing to provide assistance and support to the best of its ability for Sierra Leone’s development in agriculture, infrastructure construction and human resources, and encourage Chinese enterprises to invest and do business in Sierra Leone. President Bio said Sierra Leone is willing to strengthen cooperation with China on the Belt and Road Initiative, and tap the potential for cooperation on infrastructure, trade, education and public services. In China, President Bio hosted the Sierra Leone Investment Forum and visited China Kingho Group, China Railway Group Ltd., Chendge Jianlong Special Steel Co. Ltd. He also visited Institute of Food Crops of Hubei Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Huawei Wuhan Research Center and China University of Geosciences, where the President accepted Honorary Doctorate Degree, in Wuhan of Hubei Province, Central China. The two sides also signed a Memorandum of Cooperation between China University of Geosciences and Kono University of Science and Technology.

Win-win is the keyword of this visit. President Xi Jinping said that the people of China and Africa share a common destiny and China has always regarded solidarity and cooperation with African countries as an important cornerstone of its foreign policy. China will work with African countries to align its initiatives to support Africa’s industrialization, agricultural modernization and talent development with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the development strategies of African countries; to further integrate the development of China, Africa and the world to promote the upgrading of China-Africa cooperation and move the world towards a bright future of peace, security, prosperity and progress. China is ready to work with African friends, including Sierra Leone, to make this year’s session of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) a success. President Bio totally agreed with it and said that Sierra Leone is willing to inject new impetus into the traditional friendship and promote the further development of Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership between the two nations. Sierra Leone is also willing to strengthen coordination and cooperation with China in regional and international affairs to jointly promote world peace and development.

After 53 years of development, China-Sierra Leone friendship has grown from small gravel to huge mountains, from trickles to rivers and seas, and has become a good example of China-Africa solidarity and cooperation. I believe that under the common care and strategic guidance of the two heads of state, China-Sierra Leone friendly cooperation will gain more visible outcome. China is ready to work together with Sierra Leone to promote the continuous development of the Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership between China and Sierra Leone and better benefit the two peoples.

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