China, Sierra Leone vow to cement ties

2024-02-29 08:22:47China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

President Xi Jinping shakes hands with visiting Sierra Leonean President Julius Maada Bio during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday. (FENG YONGBIN/CHINA DAILY)

President Xi Jinping pledged support to Sierra Leone on Wednesday for developing its agriculture, infrastructure and human resources, calling for stronger political mutual trust, win-win cooperation and coordination on international and regional affairs to elevate bilateral relations.

Xi hosted Sierra Leonean President Julius Maada Bio, who is making a five-day state visit to China, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing during a welcoming ceremony that included a guard of honor and a 21-gun salute.

The two leaders jointly witnessed the signing of bilateral cooperation agreements covering joint building of the Belt and Road, agriculture, economic development and implementation of the China-proposed Global Development Initiative.

Xi told Bio that ties between the two nations "can be regarded as a model of China-Africa unity and cooperation". "You are the first African head of state I have received this year. I believe your visit will promote the China-Sierra Leone relationship to a new level," Xi said.

China firmly supports the people of Sierra Leone in following a development path that suits their national conditions, and is willing to strengthen governance exchanges with the West African country, he said. He added that Beijing will encourage more Chinese businesses to invest in Sierra Leone.

According to the General Administration of Customs, trade between the two nations grew 23.9 percent year-on-year to $1.63 billion in 2023. China mainly exports electromechanical products and metal products to Sierra Leone, and it imports wood as well as mineral products.

The Chinese president also appealed for stronger bilateral cooperation in United Nations Security Council affairs and joint efforts to safeguard the interests of Africa and developing countries.

Beijing welcomes Sierra Leone to actively participate in the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative, he said.

Xi reaffirmed China's commitment to regarding developing unity and cooperation with African countries as an important cornerstone of its foreign policy.

China will adhere to the principle of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith, and strengthen mutual support and friendly cooperation with African countries, he emphasized.

The nation will closely align its major initiatives for supporting industrialization, agricultural modernization and personnel training in Africa with the African Union's Agenda 2063 and the development strategies of African countries, he said.

China is willing to work with African friends, including Sierra Leone, to successfully host this year's Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and advance China-Sierra Leone and China-Africa friendship, he added.

Bio, who is making his second state visit to China since taking office in 2018, expressed appreciation for China's support for his nation's socioeconomic development.

"The People's Republic of China has always been a reliable partner of the Republic of Sierra Leone," he said. "Sierra Leone and China share a bond that transcends geographical distance."

Sierra Leone adheres to the one-China principle, firmly supports China in maintaining its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and supports China in safeguarding its core interests, he said.

Bio said his country is willing to learn from China's experience, strengthen bilateral cooperation in building the Belt and Road, and explore new areas of cooperation in infrastructure construction, trade, education and public services.

According to his official website, the Sierra Leonean leader will also take part in an investment roundtable, meet with key investors and attend a ceremony to confer on him an honorary doctoral degree from China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, Hubei province.

Yang Baorong, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of West-Asian and African Studies, said there is huge potential for China and Sierra Leone, a country rich in mineral resources, to boost their bilateral cooperation.

"For Sierra Leone, strengthened cooperation with China can help the government contain rising inflation rates and create more jobs," he said.

Jiang Hengkun, an associate researcher at Zhejiang Normal University's Institute of African Studies, said the ironclad ties between China and Sierra Leone have been forged during their common fight against Ebola and COVID-19.

The visit showcased how China, as a member of the developing Global South, will continue to help African countries navigate their various risks and challenges, he said.


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