Her Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia
His Excellency Vice President
Hon. Senator Pro-tempore
Honorable Cabinet Dean and Minister of Foreign Affairs
Cabinet Ministers and governmental officials
Doyen and members of the diplomatic corps
Deputy SRSG and members of the UN family
Members of the legislature
My Chinese compatriots
Friends from the media
Ladies and gentlemen
This is a historical and unforgettable date for me as it is the first time in my life to accept such a high distinction of Humane Order of African Redemption with the grade of Knight Great Band. It is a great and unique honor for me. I wish to express my profound gratitude to you Madam President, the Liberian government and people for recognizing my humble efforts. I know full well that this graceful honor largely represents Liberia's recognition of the contribution made by China to the postwar peace and reconstruction in Liberia. Therefore, I am accepting this honor on behalf of the Chinese government and people including the hardworking Chinese community in Liberia.
I also wish to thank all of you, particularly the platform guests for taking your precious time out to honor me with your kind and graceful personal presence at this function to bid me farewell.
Since my arrival on August 28, 2007, so many people, particularly journalists have repeatedly asked: "China is doing a lot here in Liberia, what are you after?" Let me answer that question once again before my departure. According to my understanding, my government gave me three tasks to perform. First, to make friends with all people, Liberians and non-Liberians; Second, to promote mutually beneficial cooperation and partnership; Third, to make China better and correctly understood by the Liberian general public. That's all what I have been after. If I say I have achieved my objectives by today, do you agree? According to my reading, this laud "yes" means that you all agree to my departure since my job is done.
I am leaving Liberia not to abandon you my dear friends, but to make room for a more dynamic ambassador. My successor Mr. Zhao Jianhua is a very experienced and promising diplomat currently working as the DDG in the Policy Planning Department of the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Diplomats are like athletes in a relay race, the succeeding runner usually runs faster than the proceeding breathless one. Ambassador Zhao will definitely inject new impetuous and vitality into our bilateral relations. I hope that you will give him the full support as you have given to me.
I am leaving with greater confidence in Liberia. I have witnessed so many positive changes in the last three years and half. I am very proud to be part of this change. Bumpy roads have been gradually turned into smooth ones; Numerous schools, hospitals, clinics, universities, banks, shops and residential houses have been built or renovated; Peace and stability have been maintained; Democracy has been established; Human rights have been ensured; Numerous laws have enacted to facilitate rule of law; Handsome GDP growth has been registered. Foreign debts have been cancelled; Foreign aid and direct investments have been attracted in billions; Liberia's international status has been markedly lifted. Tireless efforts have been made to "Lift Liberia" by moving the country from dependency to self-sufficiency and turning the nation from poverty to prosperity. Being a friend and an optimist, I envisage an economic boom in Liberia in the coming decade if peace can be effectively maintained.
I am leaving Liberia with sincere hopes. I hope that there will be continued peace and stability with or without UNMIL presence. I hope that the coming general election will be peaceful, free and fair. I hope that there will be a more vigorous production-oriented development in Liberia where resource advantages can be turned into development advantages. I hope that Liberia will be able to export food to China one day, as it enjoys the most favorable conditions for agriculture, such as abundant land, adequate rainfalls, plentiful sunshine and sufficient manpower. I hope that invitations can be sent out 3 days, if not one week, before the date of event.
I am leaving Liberia with pride, fulfillment and satisfaction. Liberia is the smallest among all those countries to which I have been posted, but the number of friends I have made here is the largest. The support given to me to carry out my duties is the strongest. Access to discussion with senior officials including Madam President is the easiest. The number of people-oriented projects that were commenced and completed with my personal intervention is the biggest. Our bilateral relationship has entered into its historical best. The achievements I have made here are the richest in my diplomat career. Distinctions awarded to me are the highest and the most numerous. The Embassy in which I live and work is the best and newest. I am very happy with my life and work here and I wish I could stay longer to complete my unfinished beautiful dreams. I shall always remember my busy but rewarding days in Liberia.
I am leaving Liberia with fond memories. Having heard my positive remarks, some of you may ask if I have any frustrations over those years. If I say no, that's phony. Frustration did bother me from time to time. When urgent documents could not be signed immediately, I got frustrated. When important letters got lost in the delivery process, I got frustrated. But all those frustrations and displeasure were replaced by satisfaction and fulfillment when I saw the started and completed projects that serve the wellbeing of the Liberian people. Any country including China has its problems. Expecting a postwar Liberia to be perfect is neither fair, nor realistic. Therefore, my mind is now full of fond memories with no room for frustrations or complaints.
I am leaving Liberia with a sense of guilt. I must confess that sometimes I do things undiplomatic or not in conformity with protocols, such as being too pushy when getting things done or making appointments without going through proper channels. Here I wish to beg all those who might have been offended to forgive me. But at the same time, please also believe me that I have done so not to show arrogance, but to get things done quickly and efficiently as I am a doer.
I am leaving Liberia with deep gratitude. In China we have a saying: "A strong fence needs three poles to stabilize and a good man needs three people to support". The number of people from whom I got support was not just three or three dozen, but the entire Liberian government and people. Madam President, I want to thank you for permitting me to call you and call on you to tackle urgent problems, for taking me along with you on many of your inspection tours to different counties, including the unforgettable trip to Belle Yella on a Christmas Day, through which I learned how diligently the first African female president worked and how dearly you treated your remote citizens. That trip greatly deepened my understanding of the strength of the two English words--devotion and determination. Mr. Vice President, thank you for the unusual but warm handshake at the Roberts International Airport just 5 minutes after my landing on the Land of Liberty, which imprinted in my mind a first favorable impression of Liberian officials and also for the moving stories that you told me about how you forged yourself into what you are today through resilience and hard work, which inspired me so much. All government officials from the three branches, particularly the Foreign ministers and their colleagues, thank you for allowing me to have easy access to your offices for discussions to work out programs or to iron out obstacles in our way forward. Friends from the media, thank you for interviewing me from time to time enabling me to reach out to the grassroot people. Traditional leaders, relevant media houses and the University of Liberia, thank you for honoring me with titles like "Honorary Paramount Chief", "Diplomat of the Year" and "Honorary Doctorate Degree." My colleagues from the diplomatic community and officials from the UN family, thank you for the cooperation we carried out together for the benefit of Liberia. My colleagues in the Chinese embassy, thank you for your dutiful and hard work that have significantly strengthened the China-Liberia ties. Finally, I wish to thank my wife for sacrificing her higher career pursuit to accompany me here in Liberia. If the performance of this ambassador gets a good score, it is all of us who have made it possible, not me alone. Let me say a very big thank-you to all of you from bottom of my heart.
I am leaving Liberia with an open invitation. If any of you go to the country to which I am going to be posted, please visit me and I shall be more than happy to entertain you with Chinese food there. I can not disclose the name of that country right now, but I can tell you definitely that I am coming back to Africa with which I have so deeply fell in love.
Madam President and all my friends, my ambassadorship will end next Monday, but my friendship with you and my commitment to Liberia will not. I shall volunteer to be an unpaid goodwill messenger for Liberia which will be properly portrayed wherever I go. I shall miss all of you my good friends and may our friendship last forever.
Thank you all.