By Modupe Gbadeyanka
On December 1, 2016, President Xi Jinping of China held talks at the Great Hall of the People with President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone.
At the meeting, the two leaders decided to upgrade China-Sierra Leone relations to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership and take the implementation of outcomes of the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) as an opportunity to comprehensively expand and deepen bilateral friendly as well as mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields, so as to better benefit the two peoples.
Xi Jinping pointed out that since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries 45 years ago, both sides have shared mutual respect, equality, mutual trust, mutual benefit and win-win results as well as understood and supported each other on issues concerning respective core interests and major concerns.
Having withstood the test of times and international vicissitudes, bilateral relationship remains unshakable and becomes even firmer as time goes by. Both sides should consolidate political mutual trust and safeguard common interests, he said.
According to the Chinese leader, his country is willing to enhance personnel exchanges with Sierra Leone in various fields including government, political party, legislative institution, army and local government.
He stressed that both sides should deepen mutually beneficial cooperation and promote common development, adding that China encourages domestic enterprises and financial institutions to actively engage in infrastructure building and mineral exploitation in Sierra Leone for mutually beneficial cooperation so as to promote Sierra Leone’s industrialization and sustainable self-development, as well as stands ready to support the country to develop agriculture and improve its capability of ensuring food safety.
He noted that the two sides should strengthen people-to-people and cultural exchanges as well as mutual friendship, adding that China is willing to enhance communication and cooperation with Sierra Leone in such areas as culture, education, health, tourism, media, think tank, youth and women, actively carry out joint study on diseases, and support the country to strengthen the building of its public health system and capacity in the area.
He emphasised that both sides also need to strengthen international cooperation and coordination to maintain unity in Africa.
China is ready to reinforce communication and coordination with Sierra Leone in UN affairs, climate change, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, African peace and security and other major international and regional issues to jointly safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries, he submitted.
Xi Jinping stressed that China is delighted to see Africa’s self-enhancement through unity and the rapid development of its integration process. China will adhere to its Africa policy featuring sincerity, practical results, affinity and good faith and the correct viewpoint of righteousness and benefit, comprehensively implement the outcomes of the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit and closely combine its own development with assisting Africa’s sustainable self-development, so as to achieve win-win cooperation and common development.
In his remarks, Ernest Bai Koroma expressed that China is a true and trustworthy friend of Sierra Leone, maintaining that China took the lead in the international community to aid Sierra Leone during the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic in 2014 when it needed help the most.
According to him, he would like to express sincere thanks to President Xi Jinping, the Chinese government and people, saying the people of Sierra Leone can deeply feel the friendship of the Chinese people.
Sierra Leone firmly upholds the one-China policy and admires China’s development outcomes. The country stands ready to strengthen cooperation with China in various fields and well implement the 10 major cooperation plans proposed by President Xi Jinping at the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit, so as to push bilateral and Africa-China comprehensive strategic cooperative partnerships for continuous and in-depth development. Sierra Leone is willing to intensify communication and cooperation in international affairs and enhance mutual support with China, he said.
After the talks, the two heads of state witnessed the signing of bilateral cooperation documents covering diplomacy, economy, infrastructure construction, health and other areas.
Before the talks, President Xi Jinping held a welcoming ceremony for Ernest Bai Koroma at North Hall of the Great Hall of the People. Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Arken Imirbaki, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, Vice Chairperson of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Li Haifeng and others were present.
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