China Comes Calling – What Does Wang Yi Visit Mean for Liberia? (allAfrica.com)

For the Post-war nation which has benefited immensely from China in recent years, Wang’s visit could offer yet another opportunity for Liberia to press for much needed post-Ebola assistance but more importantly, a chance for the Sirleaf administration to capitalize on the Chinese willingness to help push some of the administration’s agenda as the sunsets on the Unity Party-led government.

Monrovia – When China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi touches down in Liberia Saturday, the visit would mark a continuation of Beijing’s continued push to sustain on-going diplomatic and development initiatives in Africa.

For Liberia, which has benefited immensely from China in recent years, Wang’s visit could offer yet another opportunity for Liberia to press for much needed post-Ebola assistance but more importantly, a chance for the Sirleaf administration to capitalize on the Chinese willingness to help push some of the administration’s agenda as the sunsets on the Sirleaf presidency.

For China, Wang’s visit could offer Beijing a shot at some of Liberia’s investment and economic potential particularly the much-coveted Wologisi Mines and the rehabilitation of the Roberts International Airport.

Lin Songtian, Secretary-General of the Chinese Follow-up Committee of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, also a former Chinese Ambassador to Liberia and Malawi, in a recent Op-Ed piece, says Foreign Minister Wang summarized the four principles China adheres to in international industrial capacity cooperation, which are “the right approach to righteousness and benefit, win-win cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, and market-based operation”. Wang Yi stressed that China’s industrial capacity cooperation with other countries will not come at the cost of environment and long-term interests of others. China will never take the old colonial path of looting and damaging others’ resources. So China says, so China does.”

Today, a large number of companies in China have invested in Africa, tapping the continent’s natural resources to fuel the Asian giant’s economic growth. In meeting with visiting Chinese business entrepreneurs and investors Thursday, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf encouraged the Chinese to explore the Wologisi interests more. “I know over the years China has expressed interest in the Wologisi Mountain and I hope you’ve been talking with the Minister of Land Mines and Energy on that, to see what it is, Wologisi is the last major iron ore asset we have now and so we all are trying to be careful how we handle it.”

The Liberian president encouraged the Chinese by suggesting to them to keep on their consultation if they will get hold of the Wologisi range. “I just suggest that you continue to discuss with the minister who will also talk to the people of Lofa County, as part of our reform, people that own the assets even though the central government owns it but those people that are involve in discussions in the county are important, you can talk to the County authorities or start the process of discussion of getting everybody who have any interest or rights, our legislators in the county need to be involve in the discussion as well.”

Wologisi has also drawn interests from India’s Steel & Energy Giant, Jindal, which has an outstanding record of being one of the world’s reliable and established entities. The company made known its investment interest in Liberia, focusing on the Wologisi Mountain Range where there are huge deposits of iron ore and other endowments. Added to its desire of mining at Liberia’s resource-rich Wologisi Mountains Range Mr. Navin Jindal agreed on the request of President Sirleaf to also invest in rejuvenating Liberia’s declined energy sector with the construction of 175 MW Coal Power Plant in Liberia.

Now it appears the Chinese are now mounting pressure in getting Wologisi through engagement with the Liberian government. Many in Liberia and President Sirleaf believe that with the visitation of the Chinese delegation in Liberia could mark a gateway to Chinese investment in Liberia. The Chines delegation is in the country to explore means to invest in infrastructures, energy and other local businesses. Representatives of major Chinese companies that are a part of the visiting delegation come from the mining, power and high tech sectors.

Other companies forming a part of the delegation include China Railway Material, and Sino-Tech Minerals, power China (BEC), Hydro China, and China Harbor Engineering Co. Others are Ginko Engineering Co. Ltd., Sino-German Engineering Co and SEPCO III Power Construction and Heknan Jingyuanguoye as well as the Shandong Exit Secure Network Technology Co. The visiting delegation, dubbed “2015 Sino-Liberia WIN-WIN Visit”, held major discussions with stakeholders from both government and private entities in Liberia, beginning July 31. Meeting President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Representatives of various companies expressed interest key sector that they would want to invest.

During the delegation’s deliberations with the Liberian leader, encouraged Chinese companies wanting to invest in Liberia to be time conscious as they will invest. “Whatever you do, whatever we agreed to partner in we want it done fast to quality standard no doubt, to international standard no doubt, to meet all of the conditionality and the arrangement yes we have to do all of that but though you need to meet all those conditions but we want you to do it fast, too much time,

When you tell us what you want to do don’t change it, be on time in your implementation. She wants every projects earmark by Chinese investors to have a time frame that will seek it speedy completion. During Thursday’s meeting, President Sirleaf called on Chinese investments operating the mining sector in Liberia, mainly iron ore sector to see reason by processing the iron ore in Liberia.

The President wants both the Liberian and the Chinese governments to support China Union in its plan to do the processing of Iron Ore, “China Union which is operating in Liberia here requires support from the government of Liberia and the government of China to enable China Union to carry out the big project they has about processing the iron ore in our country, that is something that has been missing in the history of our country even though we have been doing iron ore for the past three decades we haven’t had the processing of iron ore which adds value to our resources,” she noted.

The President noted that if the support is given China Union by the two countries for the company to process Iron Ore in Liberia, China will according to her be a ‘star partner’ to Liberia, “if China can really deliver that for us, by processing the iron ore here, you will make a big difference and you will be truly a star partner in Liberia, if you can make that happen and again we need to know what we need to do to work together to support China Union in that project,” She noted at the meeting.

From 2000 to 2011, there are approximately 68 Chinese official development finance projects identified in Liberia through various reports. These projects range from renovating and constructing the Fendell Campus for Engineering of the University of Liberia, to a US$10 million contract with the Government of Liberia for the construction of a 100 bedroom hospital in Nimba County in 2008

Wang also visiting Guinea, Sierra Leone

The Liberia stop is one of three for Wang who is also visiting three of the African nations hardest hit by an outbreak of the Ebola virus – Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Wang arrives in Monrovia Saturday from Freetown on his three-day visit to the three countries. Wang is winding down his Southeast Asia trip where he attended a regional security summit. The deadly Ebola virus has killed more than 11,200 people in West Africa since it broke out in December 2013. China, Africa’s biggest trading partner, has sent hundreds of medical workers to Africa and contributed aid of more than $120 million to the anti-Ebola effort, after initially facing criticism for not doing enough.

Wang, addressing a high-level meeting on response to the outbreak of Ebola virus disease on the sidelines of the annual UN General Debate, last September, declared that the people of China will always stand beside the African people in the fight against Ebola. “The epidemic may be merciless, but people with love help each other,” said Wang. “The Chinese government has provided instantly drugs, medical equipment and other disease prevention and relief materials to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau.”

China has sent in succession more than 170 medical workers to the affected areas to fight on the front line against the epidemic with local people since the outbreak of the epidemic. “They work round the clock to help people from the affected areas,” Wang said. Last August, China offered once again 30 million yuan (or about 4. 86 million U.S. dollars) worth of humanitarian assistance to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, which were delivered to them by air, according to Wang.

Beijing also sent additional packages of assistance totaling 200 million yuan to relevant an African country, which includes food, materials and equipment, and cash, while offer cash assistance to the World Health Organization and the African Union each worth two million US dollars. Relevant decisions are being implemented.

PROFILE: Who is Wang Yi

Wang Yi was born October 19, 1953. He formerly served as China’s Vice Foreign Minister, Ambassador to Japan, and Director of the Taiwan Affairs Office. He was appointed Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China in March 2013. Wang was born in 1953 in Beijing. After graduating from high school in September 1969, he was sent to Northeast China. He subsequently served in the Northeast Construction Army Corps in Heilongiiang Province for eight years.

In December 1977, Wang returned to Beijing, and in the same year was enrolled in the department of Asian and African Languages of Beijing International Studies University (BISU) (BISU). He studied the Japanese language at the institution, graduating in February 1982 with a Bachelor’s degree. Wang’s wife is the daughter of Qian Jiadong, the Foreign Affairs Secretary of Zhou Enlai.

Upon graduation from university, Wang was sent to the Asian section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he began his career as a diplomat. In September 1989, he was sent to the Chinese Embassy in Japan and served there for five years. When he returned to China in March 1994, Wang was appointed as vice section chief of the Asian section of the Ministry and was promoted to section chief the next year. From August 1997 to February 1998, Wang was a visiting scholar at the Institute of Foreign Relations of Georgetown University in the United States. Soon after his return, he was promoted to Minister assistant and the director of office of policy research. From September 1999, Wang studied international relations at China Foreign Affairs University and obtained a master’s degree. In February 2001, Wang was elevated to deputy Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in charge of Asian affairs. He was then the youngest deputy Minister.

In September 2004, Wang was appointed as China’s Ambassador to Japan. He served in this post until September 2007. In June 2008, Wang succeeded Chen Yunlin as the director of Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council of PRC. Wang has been a member of the 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in session between 2007 and 2012 and the current 18th Central Committee in session between 2012 and 2017.