|Remarks at the Farewell Reception by H.E.Zhou Yuxiao on March 16,2011|
Her Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia
Time flies so fast. Three years and half have passed by quietly without my notice. It is really sad for me to say goodbye to all the good friends I have made, to the nice working and living environment to which I have got so used and to the country and people that I care and love so much.
However, I am not hosting this farewell reception to sadden you too. In fact, we have reasons to be happy and optimistic and we have much to celebrate.
First, Liberia will embrace a more dynamic ambassador from China. My successor Ambassador Zhao Jianhua is a very high-calibered diplomat currently working as a Deputy Director-General of the Policy Planning Department of the Chinese Foreign Ministry. I am sure that he will bring new ideas and vitality into our bilateral relations. He deserves your unreserved support.
Second, Liberia has achieved a lot. I am so pleased to witness with my own eyes the peace and stability that have been established and the tremendous changes that have taken place in the last few years. Madam President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf could visit any crowded market anywhere in the country without fear of insecurity and she could reshuffle the cabinet and be away from the country for one or two weeks without worry about fire at backyard. In my eyes, that was a clear indication of the level of security and stability in Liberia. Bumpy roads in and around Monrovia have been turned into smooth ones. Numerous laterite roads, schools, hospitals, clinics, universities, banks, supermarkets, residential houses have been built or renovated across the country. Liberia has registered a handsome GDP growth rate of more than 6% annually for the last five consecutive years and managed to have its huge foreign debts cancelled. It has attracted foreign direct investments as huge as US$16 billions. Liberia's active participation in regional and international affairs has markedly raised its status in the region and in the world as a whole. Let me extend, on behalf of the Chinese government and in my own name, the warmest congratulations to the Liberian government and people for the gratifying achievements and progress.
Third, Liberia has won so many supportive and reliable friends over the world including China. The current China-Liberia relations, which are characterized by mutual understanding, mutual trust, mutual support, mutual benefit and equality, are excellent, free from any major problem. What we do have between us is friendship, partnership and cooperation. Since the reestablishment of diplomatic ties between us in 2003, our bilateral relations have been expanding and deepening rapidly and steadily with the joint efforts made by both sides. We have witnessed tremendous progress in almost every field. I am very proud of being part of this history making process.
In the political field, there have been frequent exchanges of high level visits aimed at mapping out strategies, ironing out problems and promote cooperation. The important meetings held between leaders from all three branches of government in China and Liberia. Particularly, the mutual visits by Her Excellency Madam President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to China in 2006 and by His Excellency President Hu Jintao to Liberia in 2007 set tones and laid solid foundation for the smooth development of our bilateral ties.
In the diplomatic field, China and Liberia have been supporting each other on issues of vital importance for both sides. For example, China has voted in favor of dispatching UN peacekeeping force to Liberia and its repeated extension of stay. Liberia has repeatedly voted in China's favor on Taiwan and other issues. China was the first to build a new Embassy in Monrovia to show its solidarity with and facilitate proactive diplomacy in Liberia.
In the Security Field, China has attached great importance to the grave security concern by the Liberian government and people. The 558 Chinese Peace-keepers and a dozen peace-keeping policemen serving under UNMIL as well as the Tubman Army Barracks in Gbarnga renovated and expanded with Chinese assistance were just few examples of China's firm support to Liberia's peace and stability.
In the education field, we actively participated in Liberia's efforts to empower its people by building a university campus, university labs, community schools, running training programs both in Liberia and China and providing scholarships. The Confucius Institute has been set up in UL for Chinese Language teaching. I am pleased to announce that another 20 scholarships will be available for Liberian students to study in Chinese universities this year and we are ready to build a large vocational training school at MVTC very soon. The Fendall Campus will be provided with furniture which is being ordered in China and Liberia.
In the Health field, we tried to be as responsive as possible to the dire need of medical services by the Liberian people. In addition to the Anti Malaria Center and the Chinese medical team in the JFK Medical Center, we have built the Tappita hospital equipped with modern medical facilities. China is ready to offer US$1.5 million for the Hospital to purchase additional medical equipment and consumables to facilitate its normal operation. We are also to send 5 technicians to the hospital and train its 25 medical and technical personnel in China as obligations under the tripartite MOU signed with the Liberian and Egyptian governments. We are now trying to complete the unfinished building of the Ministry of Health before the end of this year if the rainy season doesn't come too early.
In the agricultural field, while running several small training programs, we completed the construction of an Agricultural Technology Demonstration Center in CARI last year. Field preparations are being done by Chinese experts and local people. Actual training for large number of local people are about to start. The purpose is to help Liberia improve its agricultural production and food security.
In the economic field, China has become Liberia's largest trade partner. Liberia's export to China reached US$24.5 million in 2010. Chinese investments are coming slowly but steadily. China Union has become one of the major investors in Liberia. We shall encourage more Chinese investments in Liberia.
In the infrastructure area, Chinese companies like Chico and Cico has been actively engaged in Liberia's road and bridge constructions. Much of the Chinese assistance is also devoted to infrastructure building. I am pleased to let you know that a technical survey team is scheduled to arrive tomorrow to conduct feasibility studies for the construction of a ministerial complex to be built with Chinese aid if suitable land is available.
In the cultural and sports fields, several cultural troops from both sides exchanged their performing visits which helped enhance our mutual understanding and respect for each other's culture. The China-renovated SKD stadium enabled Liberia to organize large sports and cultural activities. As you can see, all these projects and programs are people and development oriented, meeting the practical needs of the Liberia's postwar reconstruction.
While making humble contributions to Liberia's postwar peace, reconstruction and development, China has also benefited from its partnership with Liberia. The consolidated peace and stability in Liberia contributes to the Chinese concept of building a harmonious world through common development. The stabilized bilateral relationship serves as a support to China's great cause of national reunification. Enhanced cooperation facilitated China's access to Liberian market and resource in an internationally accepted manner. In one word, China-Liberia collaborations are mutually beneficial. We are all winners, no losers. We are all reaping rich dividends from our strong partnership in progress. China is satisfied with this win-win relationship.
Building such a strong, comprehensive and fruitful relationship is by no means a one-man-job. It is the result of our collective wisdom and common efforts from both sides. I am extremely grateful to you Madam President for your kind personal guidance and support without which my score card would look much less impressive. I am very grateful to the three branches of the Liberian government, all political parties and the general public for their unreserved support to the right policies of partnership and friendship formulated by our far-sighted top leaders in both countries. I am very grateful to the officials in the Liberian foreign Ministry and other ministries and parastatals for their strong support and full cooperation rendered to me in carrying out my duties. I am very grateful to all the Chinese aid workers, peacekeepers, investors and business people for their sacrifices and contributions to China-Liberia cooperation. I am very grateful to my colleagues for their help and support which are indispensible in achieving what we have achieved in our bilateral collaboration. I am very grateful to my local employees for keeping my embassy clean, green and secure. Thank you Madam President, platform guests and all the friends for honoring me with your graceful presence at this farewell reception. 亲爱的同胞们,衷心感谢大家多年来给我的帮助,支持和关心,也感谢你们为中利友谊和合作所作的积极贡献.愿我们的友谊地久天长.
Dear friends, my wife and I are leaving next Monday, but our friendship with you will remain forever in our hearts. We shall miss all of you and wish you all the best in the years to come. Finally, please join me in a toast to the health of Madam President and my President Hu Jintao, to peace and prosperity in Liberia, to China and Liberia partnership, to our lasting friendship.