Senior Chinese official in Freetown says there are no plans for a fish feed factory in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 May 2021:

After several weeks of media attention on allegations of the government of Sierra Leone having sold precious seaside land to the Chinese for the construction of a fish feed factory that critics say will destroy the environment and cause massive suffering on the local community, officials of the Chinese government say that the allegations are not only untrue, but malicious and designed to destroy China’s relationship with Africa in general and Sierra Leone in particular.

This is what the Economic and Commercial Officer at the Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone, Mr Du Zijun said in a statement published yesterday:

“I, Du Zijun, Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Republic of Sierra Leone have noted that some local and foreign media have recently published some false reports on the China-aid Fish Harbour Project for Sierra Leone on the basis of some unfounded social media news.

“I find it difficult to understand this kind of groundless speculations, attacks and smear. I wish to make the following points: First, it is an assistance project that the government of Sierra Leone has requested the Chinese government to help construct for the purpose of promoting the development of Sierra Leone’s own fishery sector.

“The content of the project is to build a fish harbour rather than a “fish meat mill”. It is a Sierra Leonean project rather than a Chinese one. The accusation about Sierra Leonean side selling 250 acres of land to China is totally groundless.

“Second, the site selection and environmental impact assessment of the project are determined or conducted by the government of Sierra Leone in accordance with its own laws and administrative procedures. The Chinese side will decide on the establishment and implementation of the project after the Sierra Leonean side completes its relevant work.

“The accusations of not paying attention to environmental protection and destroying the ecological environment are completely sensational and hypothetical. It is an insult to the government and people of Sierra Leone to claim that the Sierra Leonean government is incapable of doing relevant work or does not consider the interests of the Sierra Leonean people.

“Third, some people make relevant remarks about the project in the name of environmental protection, but their real intention may not be to protect the environment, but to hinder the implementation of the project and thus hinder the economic and social development of Sierra Leone.

“Fourth, some people indulge in criticizing and accusing China- Sierra Leone and China-Africa cooperation for one reason or another, but they are unwilling to contribute in a substantiated way to the economic and social development of Sierra Leone and other African countries. The Sierra Leonean people and the African people can see it through very easily.

“The China-Sierra Leone and China-Africa friendly cooperation will not be detracted by such groundless accusations.”

Although Sierra Leone’s Fisheries Minister – Mrs Kowa, issued a statement last week denying the allegations, critics say that the government must publish all documents relating to the Chinese funded Fish Harbour project, including feasibility study report, the business case, and environmental impact study report.

The Sierra Leone Telegraph has been informed that requests for these documents to be made public as provided for under the country’s Freedom of Information laws, have not been responded to by the Rights to Access Information Commission.

These alleagtions go to the heart of president Bio’s mantra about transparency, probity, open government, and his fight against corruption in Sierra Leone.

7 Comments

  1. Peter Dauda, thank you. It’s about time a segment of us started to contemplate the unthinkable to tell the government and the Chinese that if need be we shall start a war of attrition to save our country from natural disasters because we are careless about our environment. What methods we deploy should entirely be our business, but we will make sure that nobody gets hurt. Sierra Leone is ours and we shall hit where it hurts most, much like the Ghanian Armed Forces have been doing in destroying equipment belonging to illegal Chinese gold miners who have been decimating the environment. Pale-skinned people, be they Europeans, Chinese or otherwise see us as stupid and easily manipulated. Some even think that we are less than humans. The time has come for us to take off our endearing clothes and put on the devilish ones.

  2. Mr Du Zijun – The Chinese people have been our dependable friends for countless decades gone by in the moving winds of time. It was the Master of shrewd himself, Old Siaka Stevens that forged, molded and cemented that great relationship with his own hands like a sculptor carving the image of himself out of marble and stone. There was once a time I was told, when safeguarding the interest of the Chinese was a top priority for the people of Sierra Leone and the Chinese in order to show their appreciation helped Stevens carefully design a sustainable plan with support structures that were created from the advice of Chinese leaders whose top priorities were to ensure that the relationship between these two countries will sustainably stand the test of time. Old friends are as good and precious as Gold, and it is said that Aged wine tastes much better than fresh grapes.

    Mr Zijun there is an ancient Chinese proverb that says:”Don’t Impose on other people what you yourself does not desire;” Those are the words of your ancestors; My own eyes have seen the draconian measures the Chinese government has been carefully putting in place in order to protect the environment and reduce pollution. Why don’t you guys help us do the same thing here? Sir,we highly appreciate your efforts to make things much clearer for us on this issue of critical importance regarding the creation of a massive Fish feed factory that is bound to have disastrous irreversible consequences on the environment.

    Again our poor people have decided to take you at your word – we are now firmly resolved to make a gamble and give you the benefit of the doubt because we believe, that Trust is the most important ingredient that flavors,sustains, solidifies and sensitizes every meaningful and practical relationship. Now kindly remember this – Old friends do not tell you one thing today and then do another tomorrow. – Our people are hopeful that you will keep your word and act only in good fate towards my lovely, enchanting,beloved Sierra Leone. (lol)

  3. Any evidence of connivance by our government with the Chinese to destroy our coastal areas will be met with maximum sabotage of their operations.

  4. Congratulations to A R Thomas and The Telegraph, Dr Banya and all patriotic Sierra Leoneans who stood up to fight for the future existence of the entity called Sierra Leone. The coverage by the Telegraph in which, as usual, ordinary Sierra Leoneans could participate with their comments has undoubtedly shaken some people in high places. They now know that despite our current problems, divisions and fights, Sierra Leoneans ultimately only really care about their country because that’s all they have got.

    What does Mrs Kowa take us to be – a bunch of mentally regarded people? If that’s what she thinks she should make all documents public. We have people out here who are capable transporting her back to reality in such a refreshing manner that she won’t know what hit her. She and the Chinese are trying take cover somehow, somewhere by issuing statements to placate those that are gullible. Had the whole issue stayed under wraps, Mrs Kowa and her gangsters would have sold our sea’s ecosystem for a free supply of fish every month. Let us don’t put it past her. How unconscionable.

  5. At the end the cold war and globalisation took hold, most major developing countries saw an acceleration in their economic growth, never seen before in the world economic performance index. Only the African continent failed to capture the globalisation fever as the rest of the world moved on. This was all down to conflicts and natural disasters. Indeed by end of the 90s, and beginning of 2000s, there were dozens of African countries involved in civil wars, bad governance, and massive institutional failures accross the board. And it didn’t help, our traditional Western allies have abandoned our continent, and pivoted to South East Asian countries and South America. Meanwhile, African governments started to look East to China for financial assistance, Zimbabwe, under Robert Mugabe. Instead of the usual route of seeking financial assistance from the IMF and World Bank.

    As China ramped up their economic miracle growth, so the demand for raw materials from Africa took a different meaning to the Chinese leadership. The Chinese government saw an opportunity to start investing in Africa, whilst our Western partners were busy fighting wars or starting wars led by the United States of America, after the September 11 2000 terrorist attacks of New York, and the Pentagon in Washington DC.

    China sees their investment in Africa as a win -win for eveyone involved. Apart from South Africa, the rest of the African continent was struggling to fit into the new global order. So it was no coincidence, when China saw an opening to invest in the African continent, they took full advantage. Indeed by 2015 China had invested more than three hundred billion dollars across the continent. As Western countries ditched their African partners that had stood by their side through out the cold war era, China renewed its long established relationship with some African countries, like Zambia, Tanzania, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, and Egypt.

    In other words China saw an opening, and took the opportunity to fill in the gaps left by Africa’s western allies. According to Mckinsey and Company, one of the most respected advisors and counselors of International financial institutions, by june 2017, there were ten thousand Chinese firms operating across the African continent. China’s interest towards Africa, is not out of wanting to make Africa to China’s image, but Africa has the raw materials to feed the ever expanding hungry Chinese industries.

    To our western partners, they see Chinese investments with no strings attached as predatory practice, and some times opaque deals with corrupt African politicians like Bio, as not only turning African states to Chinese vassal states tied down in mountain of debts – Zambia comes to mind. But this new unequal relationship between the world’s second economic super power and the world’s poorest countries in the African continent is effectively making China the new imperial power, or neo colonial power.

    China’s long standing policy of not interfering in other countries affairs is wrong. We don’t want to see this corrupt Bio government make any deals with our Chinese friends under the table. Demand for the respect of human rights and respect for the environment is universal human values. Maybe asking China to tell other countries to respect their human rights is stretching it too far. More like do as I say, don’t do as I do.

    However, what we Sierra Leoneans are demanding and asking for, is that, all deals signed and agreed upon has to be placed on the table. Not under the table deals with Bio. So it is transparent and most importantly, to make sure our Chinese partner are not complicit or help perpetuate the very corrupt system we are fighting in our country. Yes Chinese or any international investor are welcome. But we cannot take on resource debts as the main bargaining tool in our business dealings with China. Openess and transperency should be the only way to deal with China. We should go into any business negotiation with China with our eyes wide open.

    • Mr Jalloh – we have taken the discretionary decision to publish this comment despite breaking the maximum wordage rule, because of its highly informative and educational value. It should have been published as an Op ed article. Regards.

      • Thanks Mr Abdul Rashid Thomas. No excuses, next time I will stick to the rules. Sometimes I get carried away, when we see learned contibutors trying to twist the truth that exists under this corrupt Bio government.

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