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China, Sierra Leone pledge to strengthen relations

China, Sierra Leone pledge to strengthen relations


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

Xi received Sierra Leonean President Julius Maada Bio, who is on a five-day state visit to China, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in a welcome ceremony that included a guard of honor and a salute of 21 artillery shots.

The two leaders jointly witnessed the signing of bilateral cooperation agreements covering joint construction of the Belt and Road, agriculture, economic development and the implementation of China's 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 advance relations between China and Sierra Leone to a new level,” Xi said.

China firmly supports the Sierra Leonean people in pursuing a development path suited to their national conditions, and is willing to strengthen governance exchanges with the West African country, he said. . He added that Beijing would encourage more Chinese companies to invest in Sierra Leone.

According to the General Administration of Customs, trade between the two countries increased by 23.9% year-on-year to reach $1.63 billion in 2023. China mainly exports electromechanical products and metal products to Sierra Leone , and imports wood as well as mineral products.

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

Beijing invites 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 considering developing unity and cooperation with African countries as an important cornerstone of its foreign policy.

China will adhere to the principles of sincerity, real results, friendship and good faith, and strengthen mutual support and friendly cooperation with African countries, he stressed.

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

China is willing to work with its 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 said. -he adds.

Bio, who is on his second state visit to China since taking office in 2018, expressed gratitude for China's support for his country's socio-economic 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 geographic 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 lessons from China's experience, strengthen bilateral cooperation in Belt and Road construction, 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 participate in an investment roundtable, meet key investors and attend a ceremony to award him an honorary doctorate from the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, Hubei province.

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

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

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

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




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