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Forty-nine years of Sino-Salone Friendship: Congratulating two Friendly Nations

July 29, 2020

By John Sesay

Forty-nine years ago, precisely on July 29, 1971, the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Sierra Leone agreed to develop diplomatic relations, friendship and cooperation between them “on the basis of the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equity and mutual benefit, and peaceful co-existence.”

These decades of unbroken friendship with mutual support and respect have transcended the level of bilateral cooperation, but have also been at the multilateral level. Three months into the ties of cooperation, and with Solomon A.J Pratt as Foreign Minister, Sierra Leone voted in favor of a United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758, recognizing the People’s Republic of China as the only and legitimate representative of China in the UN Body. China remains a major player in Sierra Leone’s development and trade trajectory, with trade and economic relations between the two having developed steadily over the years. By 2014, for instance, economic and trade volume between the two exceeded US$1.8 billion, an increase of 15.4% over the previous year, making China, Sierra Leone’s largest trading partner.

In line with the December 2015 Johannesburg Summit/Sixth Ministerial Conference which brought about the Johannesburg Action Plan 2016-2018, and which outlined areas of development cooperation between China and Africa, China continues to expand areas of further cooperation like in, strengthening Sierra Leone’s  medical and public health infrastructure, through the establishment of a West African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention; cooperation in mining and industry; fishing and agriculture; promoting human resource development and continuing to support infrastructural development. In 2016, the relationship between the two nations was escalated to a Comprehensive Strategic Status, the highest pinnacle of bilateral relationship that China extends to countries.

As Sierra Leone continues to provide leadership of the C-10, leading the advocacy for a reform of the UN Security Council, it is also critical to continue to engage with China as both mark 49 years of friendship. China remains vital player in global affairs; it so far has shown a lot of sympathy for the African Position. With forty-nine years of ties and still counting and as the two continue twirling the wheels of diplomacy through engagements, Sierra Leone should endeavour to learn and tap from the Chinese economic growth models, draw from the ‘win-win’ mantra of development cooperation, and study their human resource development all of which are critically vital in our quest for socio-economic stability.

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