- Published on Friday, 28 September 2012 08:23
- Written by Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh, PhD
Although there are many impressions about Liberia’s foreign relations, let use the occasion of the 63rd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China to provide some concrete impressions about China-Liberia relations . Of special interest to the people of Liberia is the fact that within 30 of the 63 years of the founding of the People’s Republic of China poverty in this Asian country was reduced from 75 percent of the population to less than 5 percent of the population. The 30 year period is nearly the same length of time a president of Liberia stayed in office from the 1940s to the early 1970s the Liberian economy had the highest economic growth rate per person in the world but the poverty rate rising where less than 1 percent of the population accounted for more than 60 percent of the income and wealth. This experienced in Liberia of the 1950s is the same experience that continues today and generally the case for Africa called growth without development.
Being a teacher of economics at home and abroad and having served as Liberia’s Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs as well as Chairman of the African Group of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), I know that Liberia and other African counties in general, put out economic plans and requests for assistance on the basis of the priorities of the donors. Having emerged freshly out of civil war and experiencing high and rising demands of the people of Liberia participation in national decision-making to push for justice, the indispensible ingredient for peace, the people continue to make demands for food, health and education as highest priorities.
The people’s insistence and persistence have resulted unprecedentedly in the placement of their demands in national plans and requests for assistance. Breaking the precedence of insistence on the pursuit of donors’ priorities, the People Republic of China has not only welcomed the Liberian people’s priorities but has operationalized such spirit of welcome. Putting action in the spirit of China-Liberia relations, China has now provided the people of Liberia with better food prospects in the new Agricultural Technology Demonstration Center at the Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) in Suakoko, Bong County with better health prospects in the new Jackson Fiah Doe (JFDA) Hospital in Tappita, Nimba County and with better educational prospects in the new University of Liberia Campus at Fendell, Montserrado County. Then there is the upcoming new government ministerial complex in Congo Town, Montserrado County. In terms of private corporate relations, there are the road projects undertaken by CICO and CHICO, not forgetting the multi-million dollar investment prospect of China Union.
The people of Liberia know that it is not how long a marriage lasts that determines the quality or relevance of the marriage, but it is the honesty or sincerity in the marriage that determines its value. It is the honesty in China-Liberia marriage that has broken the bad precedence of dancing to the people’s tune. Now, the people of Liberia appreciate China for encouraging Liberia to re-orientate its educational institutions from dependence to independence from donor-reliance to self-reliance through the utilization of its immense natural resources to produce what Liberia consumes and to consume what Liberia produces by the addition of value to the production of raw materials.
Operating from a quality mode of behavior, the former colonial powers, now neo-colonial powers, are pointing fingers at the People’s Republic of China, calling China the neo-colonial power. The neo-colonial powers are still pushing the mass of poverty/underdevelopment experience for Africa where the contribution of manufacturing to the gross domestic product has decreased from 12 percent to 9 percent in the past 50 years.
China is supporting the drive of the African people for adding value to raw materials production. It is this support of China for value addition that remains problematic for the neo-colonial powers who continue to benefit from the production of raw materials for export with no emphasis on value addition that boasts local ownership, local management, local employment and reduces poverty. Interestingly enough, while the neo-colonial powers are pointing fingers at China, they have borrowed over nearly to trillion United States dollars from China to help them survive out of crisis made by their former colonial now neo-colonial policies.
As we reflect on China-Liberia’s relations at this 63rd Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, let the people of China and the people of Liberia recommit themselves to sharing knowledge and supporting actions that promote justice, peace and progress with concrete manifestations in the form of better living conditions for the masses of people.