Sierra Leone ruling party’s partnership with China is built on mutual trust and respect – says John Baimba Sesay  

John Baimba Sesay- CHINA

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 May 2017

By July, 1971, Sierra Leone and China had established diplomatic relations on the foundation of mutual trust and respect. These ties of cooperation experienced a surge, when, in the same year, just three months after entering into diplomatic ties, 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.

The Siaka Stevens/Mao Zedong era witnessed a considerable emergence of development cooperation, eventually leading to both nations today enjoying strategic ties, which have lasted for decades, with China serving as a major growth partner in Sierra Leone.

This is even now demonstrated in the levels of technical and development assistance it continues to give to Sierra Leone in various sectors such as infrastructure, health, human resource and agriculture.

The strong and uninterrupted friendship both nations are enjoying thrives on the principles of mutual support and respect. Another reason for this strong relationship, it is believed, could be that the APC party appears to have a special relationship with China’s Socialist Party.

Therefore, when, following the post Siaka Stevens era, the National Provisional Ruling Council overthrew the APC in a military coup in 1993, the relations both at the people-to-people and ambassadorial levels thawed momentarily between the two nations.

The warmth returned to the levels of 1971 following the election of President Ernest Bai Koroma. The revived bilateral ties played out more outstandingly during the 2014 Ebola outbreak.  The prompt response by the Chinese, including their support for the country’s Recovery Priorities speaks highly of the decades of cooperation.

Sierra Leone, it should be noted, has always supported China’s representation at the United Nations Security Council, being one of several African nations to have also supported China’s position on the South China Sea issue.

Also, the signing in China on December 1st, 2016, of  six cooperation agreements  (Africa Tropical Disease Research and Treatment Centre (300 Million RMB Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement); Freetown Ring Road (Limkokwing University to Regent Village); Debt Relief of 20 Million RMB (of previous Interest-Free Loan); Establishment of Consultation Mechanism between the two foreign ministries; Cooperation Agreement for Hospital Partner Assistance; and Mutual Visa Exemption of Diplomatic and Service (Official) Passport Holders) between Presidents Ernest Bai Koroma and  Xi Jinping was a clear testament of the growth in the ties of cooperation and friendship.

President Ernest Bai Koroma’s 2016 visit to China saw the escalation of the relations between the two nations to a Comprehensive Strategic Status, “the highest pinnacle of bilateral relationship that China extends to countries.”

China, President Koroma told me in a 2016 interview, “has contributed greatly in our infrastructural development programmes”, referencing their intervention in road construction, agriculture, health, education; with an increase in the number of scholarships they offer to deserving Sierra Leonean students. “When we started it was just a handful. Now we have over 100 students that are here.”

Sierra Leone, in the words of the Minister of State 1 – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, will use the scaled up bilateral relations through comprehensive, strategic cooperative partnership in a bid to fully  take advantage of the ten point cooperation package announced during the 2015 Johannesburg FOCAC Summit.

The 2015 Johannesburg FOCAC cooperation package includes areas of “industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure, financial services, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty reduction and public welfare, public health, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security.”

These are mostly in line with the country’s development trajectory, as contained in the Agenda for Prosperity.

As President Koroma said in December, 2016, it is “easy for us to quickly identify projects and activities, to quickly work along other African countries especially on regional issues to implement the programmes of expectations by the Chinese as clearly outlined in the FOCAC engagement.”

China has made commitment towards the construction of a Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in Sierra Leone to serve the West African Sub Region; and building the capacity of Sierra Leone’s health sector.

China also continues to tap into Sierra Leone’s potential for investments and an investor friendly environment.  In a nutshell, both nations continue to pursue mutually beneficial cooperation.

4 Comments

  1. I cringe anytime one of these APC apologists talk about the APC ‘Agenda for Prosperity’. The only person who seems to be benefiting from this agenda is President Ernest Bai Koroma, his family, and his kleptomaniacs marauding as government employees.

    Ernest Bai Koroma’s love affair with China is not yielding any dividends for our country. The Chinese government is very insidious. They come with a fig leaf and promises of bilateral ties, but their agenda is not to improve the lives of their host countries – but the large scale plunder of their national resources, as we have seen with our extractive industry.

    They curry favor from corrupt leaders like Ernest Bai Koroma by lining their pockets with bribes and kickbacks. Our President Ernest Bai Koroma’s attempt to mortgage our country to China can best be described as treasonous; and any benefit derived from this sale should be catalogued for future indictment.

    Having failed to make us indentured slaves to china by borrowing more money to build a brand new airport, our President is now hell bent on ensuring that they help him build a 7 story APC office that is of no value to the majority of Sierra Leoneans.

    His controversial arrangement with China to complete the Masiaka Toll Road and contracts awarded to Chinese companies to build roads such as the 19 million Dollar Wilkinson Road, which as I write has become a death trap for commuters because of the shoddy work done by the Chinese contractor – are all evidence of his complicity to defraud our nation.

    I dare John to show me any Chinese investment in Sierra Leone that has ameliorated the burden of hardship on Sierra Leoneans. Anytime you see a Chinese owned business, it is manned by another Chinese, and if they do hire the indigenes, it is to perform low level jobs.

    The goods that are shipped into our countries from China are substandard and not fit for purpose. The only reason why APC is so enamored with the Chinese is because of the communist view they share. But to say that we are equal partners is a fallacy believed only by an idiot.

  2. It’s rather unfortunate to see President koroma behave as if he is living on a different planet, based on what is going on in the politics of the united state of America with respect to Russia meddling with the democratic process and colluding with a political party leader to influence the outcome of an election. In that case there is no clear evidence to prove it which is why there are investigations going on in the US.

    In the case of the APC and President Koroma, it is blatant and also disrespectful to the people of Sierra Leone for the Chinese to openly tilt the political scale in favor of the APC against the other democratic political parties.

    Please Mr President – please don’t get too excited about the size and height of the building because even the Democratic Party office in the United State is only three floors, but just think about the idea behind it .

    My guess is the first three floors will be used by the APC and the rest will be used by the Chinese to spread their ideology in our region. I hope and pray that since you are currently in the Middle East, you won’t accept an offer of ten story building from a terrorist organization, because although it may sound like a good deal, but the ideology and repercussions will be disastrous for our nation.

  3. John Baimba, nobody is protesting the bilateral relationship Sierra Leone as a country enjoys with China, as it is a win-win relationship between the two countries. What is however, offending serious minded people, is the growing wrong-headed sycophantic relationship between the Chinese communist party and the ruling APC party in Sierra Leone.

    China, we must be aware is a communist dictatorship, that rules its people by dictate, while our ‘s is a multiparty pluralistic democracy where different customs, tribes and culture form government to represent those peculiar interests.

    By nakedly aligning with China, and accepting an offer to build a seven-story office building for the APC is not only wrong from a moral perspective, but it contravenes the laws of our country.

    Moreover, we already know this president does not respect the laws of the country, as he has violated, acted ultra-vires on several fronts since he came to power, against the very constitution that brought him to power.

    What we did expect and know about this president, is that he can go that low, by accepting this type of meddling into the affairs of our country by a foreign government.

    Don’t tell me it is a gift from a friendly communist party, because an economist will tell you, there are no “free lunches” in human interaction and affairs, as everything and anything in the world has a cost to it.

    Thus, if an action or endeavor does not have a monetary cost attached, it has an opportunity cost, i.e., a forgone alternative. An instant opportunity cost for this type of reckless action, is the suspicion that our present benefactors – the western democracies who are our real friends, who spent blood and treasure in the lives of their citizens as well as $3 billion in Sierra Leone to stop the war, and to this day support us through budgetary subsidies and other bilateral and multilateral assistance. That’s a price we cannot afford to pay for the (coco-ebeh) that China is offering the APC government.

    Unfortunately, the message we are sending to our long-standing partners, with this type of reckless behavior, is that we have a short memory, and we just care about instant gratification, and not for long-lasting, and trust worthy relationships that respective governments in Sierra Leone – APC and SLPP, have developed and nurtured for decades.

    The opportunity cost of the seven-story office building signed and approved by president Koroma last week is too high a price to pay in the global politics of our era.

    So, John Baimba, I know you must sing the praise of your paymaster to keep your job, but for once, let’s call a spade a spade and start standing up for Sierra Leone and the laws that make us a sovereign country. For without the sanctity of our laws, we do not have a country, and this APC government, headed by this president is not working in the interest of the country, but his own parochial interest, to keep the APC in power at all cost. That sort of behavior is unpatriotic and reckless.

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