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Briefing at Lunch for Development Ministers at the Fendell Campus, University of Liberia

By H.E. Mr. Zhou Yuxiao, Chinese Ambassador to Liberia

September 6, 2008

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,

Let me starting my briefing by extending warm welcome to all the distinguished ministers and officials from donor countries, international organizations and the host country to visit the construction ground of the China-aided project at the Fendall Campus of the University of Liberia.

As requested, I am going to give you some idea about this specific project and China’s aid to Liberia in general. The project you just visited consists of four parts: namely the teaching and administrative buildings, apartment buildings for faculty members, dormitory buildings for students and other auxiliary facilities like generator house, sports field and etc. The new campus covers an area of 11 hectares with 24,800 square meters of floor space. The construction work started on April the 18th, 2008 and is scheduled to be completed in two years of time. China Guangdong Xingguang International Group is the contractor. It currently employs 40 Chinese managerial and technical staff and 120 local construction workers. The number of local employees will be drastically increased during the coming dry season when construction work is in full swing. With an investment of US$ 21.5 million, this represents the second largest aid program, only next to SKD Stadium project, ever taken by China in Liberia.

Other major China aided projects that are currently being implemented include: the renovation and equipping of three labs devoting to soil testing, civil engineering and computer science in this old Fendall Campus, the construction of the Tubman Army Barracks in Gbanga, Bong County, three high schools, with two in Monrovia and one in Bomi County and 6 FM radio stations across the country.

Projects that are to be started during the coming dry season include: a hospital with 100 beds and modern facilities in Tarpeta, Nimba County, an Agricultural Technology Demonstration Center in CARI, Bong County and possibly a survey to be made for the completion of the office building of the Ministry of Health in Congo Town.

Projects done by China in the last couple of years include: rehabilitation of the SKD stadium in which you had a wonderful dinner last night, partial renovation of the Foreign Ministry office building in which you had the special LRDC meeting yesterday afternoon, construction of a dormitory building for the Chinese medical team and establishment of the Malaria Treatment and Prevention Centre in JFK Medical Center.

In the last three years, China has sent a nine-member medical team to JFK to provide medical services for the local people, a five-member agricultural expert team to BWI to do teaching and training and a five-member team on bamboo and rattan weaving training for the unemployed youth.

China has invited about 500 officials and professionals to participate in short term training programs in areas such as agriculture, health, education, tourism and etc and provided 80 full scholarships to Liberian university students in the last few years.

China has provided a limited amount of budgetary support to the Liberian government in addition to the cancellation of all Liberian debts owned to China matured before 2005,.

As you all know, China remains a developing country as its GDP per capita is only little over US$ 2000. China is not a donor,but an active participant in South-South cooperation. We are doing something here just to show the dividend of peace which is made possible by all stakeholders like the UN family, ECOWAS, African countries like Ghana and Nigeria as well as donor countries and organizations. We are offering a little help to Liberia because we know that we are living in an increasingly interdependent world in which no country can go ahead single-handedly. In this global village, we all need to help and support each other. The timely and generous assistance to China from other countries including those that are represented here during China’s recent catastrophic earthquake is a case in point. We are extremely grateful to the world for what it has done for us and we are very much encouraged to do more for others within its own ability in the future.

To ensure aid effectiveness, China follows the following practices in carrying out aid in Liberia:

l Attaching no political strings to show respect for the recipient.

l Responding to the immediate needs of Liberia’s post-conflict recovery and reconstruction.

l Passing on “fishing skills” instead of giving fish only.

l Considering and deciding aid projects at the request from and in full consultation with the Liberian government to ensure Liberia’s ownership.

l 100% implementation of committed projects to avoid lip-services with emphasis on tangible results.

l Setting deadlines of project implementation to avoid prolonged delay.

l Making aid projects transparent by inviting journalists to agreement signing ceremonies and at major intervals of project implementation like launching and commissioning.

l Simplifying procedure in providing aid to ensure speedy progress.

l Maximizing the use of aid money on actual projects by selecting Chinese contractors through bidding and minimizing administrative cost.

l Ensuring quality by employing third party supervision.

l Encouraging contractors to use as more local laborers as possible.

At the moment, we are carrying out projects mainly through bilateral channel with a view to ensure aid efficiency. That does not mean that we are against cooperation with others. On the contrary, we are more than happy to see the initiative of USAID to rehabilitate the existing Fedall Campus, so that we can jointly make UL fully operational. We are looking forward to similar cooperation with other countries and organizations. Yesterday, I made an appeal to the Liberian government officials to do more pushing and planning. Today I wish to call on the donors to be faster and better in responding to Liberia’s urgent needs.

I am sorry for the fact that the lunch I am hosting is not served with Chinese food, but I do hope you will enjoy the lunch of Liberian flavor just the same and I wish the development ministers coming from afar a pleasant stay in this beautiful and promising country and asafe journey home.

Thank you.

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