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Remarks by Chinese Ambassador to Liberia H.E. Ren Yisheng at the PUL Annual Excellence Awards Ceremony

                                              (26 February 2021)

Hon. Nathaniel F. McGill, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs of the Republic of Liberia,
Hon. Boakai Fofama, Deputy Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism,
Hon. Clarence Massaguoi, Representative, Lofa County,
Hon. Charles B. Coffey, Jr. President of the Press Union of Liberia,
Friends from the press and media circles,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening to you all! It's the Lantern Festival today marking the conclusion of the Chinese Lunar New Year celebration. I would like to wish everybody here and your families all the best in the Year of the Ox!

Many thanks to the Press Union of Liberia for inviting me to the PUL Annual Excellence Awards event. I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to all the winners of the awards!

Thank you to the PUL for arranging me to speak at this event. I would like to briefly touch on three points, first on the role and responsibilities of the press and media; second on China's development achievements; and third on the cooperation between China and Liberia.

First, the media shoulder the role and responsibility of supporting and promoting social development

Media have such functions as providing information services, undertaking early warning of social conflicts, and supervising public power.To gain credibility, the media must reflect the facts comprehensively, objectively and impartially, avoid inaccurate reports and fake news, disseminate fresh experience, reflect the demands of the people, and promote fairness and justice.

In recent years, some Western media have fabricated a lot of fake news about China and China-Africa cooperation. We hope Liberian media will distinguish right from wrong and avoid being deceived. Seeing is believing. We welcome the Liberian journalists to visit China and see all the development and changes with your own eyes.

For example, some Western media continue to discredit and attack the "one country, two systems" policy and the National Security Law implemented by the Chinese Central Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region(SAR).

The fact is that before the return of Hong Kong to China, none of the members of the HK Legislative Bureau, the legislature at that time, was nominated by the Hong Kong people, and none of them were elected through democratic procedures. All the Governors were British citizens directly appointed by the British government. After Hong Kong's return to China in 1997, Hong Kong has held six Legislative Council elections, and four Chief Executives of the SAR have been elected by Hong Kong citizens.

Over the past 20 years after Hong Kong's return, the riots that have occurred have been implicitly supported by Britain and other Western countries. The excuses are always so-called "democracy." Since the National People's Congress(NPC) passed and promulgated the "National Security Law" in 2020, a small number of criminals who seriously endangered national security have been punished, external forces interfering in Hong Kong affairs have been deterred, and Hong Kong has returned to stability.

China will continue to implement the policy of "one country, two systems" and "Hong Kong patriots governing Hong Kong" to maintain the long-term prosperity and stability of the HKSAR.

Recently, BBC, Fox and some Western media have fabricated many lies about so-called "genocide" and "forced labor" in China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.

The fact is that over the past 6 decades or so, the average life expectancy of Xinjiang has increased from 30 to 72 years. From 2010 to 2018, the Uighur population increased from 10.17115 million to 12.7184 million, an increase of 2.5469 million or 25.04%; the Han population increased from 8.829 million to 9.0068 million, an increase of 176,900 or 2.0%.

In recent years, Xinjiang has stepped up its efforts in counter-terrorism and de-radicalization, and carried out vocational skills education and training in accordance with the law, so that participating students can master the skills to make a fortune.

Today, Xinjiang's ethnic groups are harmonious, the society is stable, and the economic development speed has been higher than the national average. Lies about Xinjiang-related "genocide" and "forced labor" are malicious smears by Western politicians and the media with ulterior motives.

For some time, some Western media have hyped up China's aid projects in Africa with so-called "data collection" and cybersecurity risks, and China-Africa cooperation has created a "debt trap" in Africa.

In fact, China has never carried out so-called "data collection" activities through any foreign aid projects, including aid projects in Africa, and many leaders of African countries and the chairman of the African Union Commission have publicly refuted it.

Unlike Western practices, China never attaches any political conditions to its loans and assistance to Africa. China pays close attention to debt sustainability of recipient countries, fully respects the wills of relevant governments.

By funding infrastructure and other areas where recipient countries are in urgent need of development and have funding gaps, China helps relevant countries overcome development bottlenecks and enhance their hematopoietic function. As a result, it promotes sustainable economic and social development and improves local people's livelihood, which is warmly welcomed by the governments and people of the recipient countries.

In June 2020, Chinese President Xi Jinping presided over the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 via video links and announced that, under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation(FOCAC), China will cancel relevant African countries' interest-free loans to China due by the end of 2020. At the same time, China is ready to work with the international community to increase support for African countries with particularly severe epidemics and financial pressures, including by further extending the debt relief period to help them overcome current financial difficulties.

Second, China's development has entered a new stage.

In 2020, COVID-19 pandemic ravaged across the world, the world economy was severely impacted, and the international multilateral system faced severe challenges.

2020 is an extraordinary year for China. Under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China(CPC) and the efforts of the entire nation, China has achieved remarkable results in the fight against the COVID pandemic, and its economy has recovered steadily, becoming the only major economy in the world that has achieved positive growth. Last year, China's GDP exceeded 100 trillion yuan, equivalent to approximately US$14.7 trillion, a year-on-year increase of 2.3%. China won a decisive victory of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, won the battle against poverty, and achieved its first centenary goal.

Yesterday, President Xi Jinping declared "complete victory" in eradicating absolute poverty in China. Since the reform and opening up 43 years ago, China has reduced the poverty population by 770 million, contributing more than 70% of the global poverty reduction.

2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC and the inaugural year of China's 14th Five-Year Plan. China's economic growth is expected to exceed 8%, and it will embark on a new journey of building a socialist modern country in an all-round way and march towards the second centenary goal.

Over the past 100 years, the CPC has united and led the Chinese people to achieve a great leap from standing up, growing rich to becoming strong, and creating two miracles of rapid economic development and long-term social stability. The living standards of the Chinese people have been greatly improved, and the overall national strength has been significantly enhanced.

The CPC not only seeks the well-being of the Chinese people, but is also committed to contributing to the peaceful development of the mankind. The CPC promotes the construction of a new type of international relations and building a community with a shared future for mankind. The CPC advocates abandoning the law of the jungle with the strong bullying the weak and the big bullying the small, and strives to pave a new road of state-to-state exchanges featuring mutual respect and fairness, justice and win-win cooperation.

By upholding the correct concept of justice and benefits and the concept of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith and strengthening solidarity and cooperation with developing countries, China actively promotes the development of China-Africa comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, and safeguards the common interests of the vast number of developing countries.

Third, the friendly and pragmatic cooperation between China and Liberia has a bright prospect

Under the guidance of President Xi Jinping and President George Manneh Weah, and under the framework of the "Belt and Road"(B&R) initiative as well as the FOCAC, China and Liberia have steadily advanced their pragmatic cooperation in various fields such as economy and trade, agriculture, infrastructure construction, education, and public health with fruitful achievements.

The SKD Stadium, the annexes to the Capitol building, the Ministerial Complex, and the Roberts International Airport terminal built with Chinese assistance have become landmark buildings in Liberia. Projects such as the fly-over bridges on Tubman Boulevard, Somalia Drive-Sinkor Boulevard Road-bridge, and the clinical reference lab are also progressing steadily. Government scholarships and short-term training programs have been implemented smoothly and will continue to expand.

In the second half of this year, the next FOCAC session will be held in Senegal. China is ready to continue to promote the integration of the "B&R" international cooperation as advocated by President Xi and the "Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development" as advocated by President Weah, and jointly implement the "Eight Major Initiatives" of China-Africa cooperation, and continue to promote friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Liberia, so as to bring more tangible benefits for our two peoples.

A friend in need is a friend indeed. In 2014, when Ebola broke out in Liberia, China took the lead to assist and became the first country to send a large number of medical experts and supplies to Liberia. After the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, President Weah and other political leaders of Liberia have supported China's fight against the pandemic. At the same time, the Chinese government and civil society organizations have successively aided many batches of anti-pandemic materials to Liberia. Chinese-funded enterprises and Chinese community in Liberia have made several rounds of donations of anti-pandemic materials to Liberia, making China's contribution to Liberia's fight against the pandemic.

Recently, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi indicated at the UN Security Council Ministerial Open Briefing on COVID-19 Vaccine Issue that, China puts the people in the first place and will strengthen international cooperation in the fight against the pandemic.
China walks the walk. China has actively joined and supported WHO's "COVAX", and decided to provide 10 million doses of vaccines to the scheme for urgent needs in developing countries. China insists that vaccines should become accessible and affordable for developing countries as global public goods. China will continue to work with Liberia, a good friend and partner, to overcome the difficulties and contain the pandemic hand in hand.

Ladies and gentlemen,

For a long time, Liberian media outlets have actively followed and reported on China's development and China-Africa cooperation, and supported the public diplomacy work of the Chinese Embassy in Liberia. I would like to take this opportunity to express our heartfelt thanks to all of you. In the future, we will continue to strengthen exchanges and cooperation between Chinese and Liberian media organizations, and jointly promote the steady and long-term cooperation between China and Liberia.

Thank you!

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