By YIN Chengwu, Chinese Ambassador to Liberia
The Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF III) was successfully held in Beijing on October 17-18, with representatives from 151 countries and 41 international organizations attending the event. Coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative, the Forum has received wide attention and warm welcome from the international community, fully demonstrating the tremendous appeal and global influence of the Belt and Road Initiative.
President Xi Jinping, in his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of BRF III, pointed out that, “Belt and Road cooperation is based on the belief that flame runs high when everyone adds wood to the fire and that mutual support can get us far. Such cooperation seeks to deliver a good life not only to people of just one country, but to people in other countries as well. It promotes connectivity, mutual benefit, common development, cooperation and win-win outcomes”. There is also an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together”. The spirit of President Xi Jinping’s speech coincides with the ancient wisdom of the African people. The Belt and Road Initiative which follows the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, was put forward with the aim of creating more opportunities for development. Guided by the same philosophy, China and Africa have carried out all-round, in-depth and high-quality cooperation under the framework of Belt and Road Initiative and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
Looking back, China-Africa cooperation has yielded fruitful outcomes.
Africa has made great progress in infrastructure development. Over the past decade, China has been involved in the construction of over 6,000 kilometers of railways, 6,000 kilometers of roads and more than 80 large power facilities in Africa. A series of landmark projects, such as the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway, the Kafue Gorge Lower Hydropower Station in Zambia, the headquarters of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Liberian EJS Ministerial Complex and the new terminal of Roberts International Airport, have continued to emerge, and have vigorously promoted the economic and social development of African countries. The Liberian EJS Ministerial Complex was the second largest building built by China in Africa at that time when it was completed in 2019, and won the China Construction Engineering Luban Prize which is the highest honorary award for project quality in China’s construction industry. Besides, Chinese enterprises have also built more than half of the continent’s wireless sites and high-speed mobile broadband networks in Africa, laid more than 200,000 kilometers of optical fibers, serving more than 900 million African people, helping the continent develop its information and communication industry, enabling the African people to enjoy the convenience brought by information technology, and bridging the “Digital Gap”.
Africa’s economic and trade cooperation with China has been growing steadily. China has remained Africa’s largest trading partner for 14 years in a row, contributing more than 20 percent to Africa’s economic growth. China has signed exchange of letters with 21 African countries on zero tariff treatment for 98 percent of their products exported to China, and provided market access to 18 agro-products from 12 African countries through the “green channel”. By the end of 2022, China’s direct investment in Africa has exceeded 47 billion US dollars. By the first half of 2021, China’s direct investment in Liberia has amounted to 181 million US dollars.
Africa’s capacity for autonomous development has been strongly supported. China cooperates with African countries in poverty reduction, helping them to increase agricultural output and the added value of agricultural products through skills training and agricultural cooperation, and promoting the modernization of African agriculture. China has built more than a dozen Luban workshops in Africa, vigorously promoting the development and innovation of vocational education in Africa. China has built 25 economic and trade cooperation zones with Ethiopia, Nigeria and other African countries, established production and processing bases and carried out localized operations, and cooperated with Liberia in bamboo and rattan weaving and vegetable planting, agricultural technological demonstration centers and other cooperation, cultivating a number of skilled workers for Liberia.
Looking ahead, China will create more new opportunities for Africa’s development.
Since ancient times, China has upheld the value of “one world, one destiny”. Thus, what China is pursuing is not the modernization on its own, but working with the vast number of developing countries to achieve modernization together and to jointly build a community with a shared future. China has always adhered to the principle of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith in its dealings with African countries, and has provided African countries with tangible help and support.
Since the end of last year, 10 African heads of state and government have visited China, taking China-Africa friendship to a new climax. In addition to the Nine Programs under the framework of FOCAC, recently President Xi Jinping put forward three new proposals at China-Africa Leaders’ Dialogue held in South Africa: Initiative on Supporting Africa’s Industrialization, Plan for China Supporting Africa’s Agricultural Modernization, and Plan for China-Africa Cooperation on Talent Development. These proposals will inject new momentum into Africa’s integration and modernization efforts.
President Xi Jinping further announced, at the BRF III, eight major steps China will take to support the joint pursuit of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, which have clarified a new direction and opened up a new vision for it. At present, 52 African countries and the African Union Commission have signed Belt and Road Initiative Cooperation Documents with China, and will have more chances to receive financial, trade and technical support under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative in the future.
Liberia is an important participant and contributor to FOCAC and the Belt and Road Initiative Cooperation mechanism. Looking ahead, China and Liberia have huge potential and promising prospects in strengthening the docking of development strategies, promoting the sharing of development opportunities and working together to realize national modernization.
From this new starting point, China is ready to work with African countries, including Liberia, to continue to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation in all fields, strengthen economic and trade exchanges, expand bilateral investment, share development opportunities, and continuously promote the quality and upgrading of China-Africa cooperation, so as to create a better future together.