By Fredrick P. W. Gaye, Monrovia, Liberia
In 2003, after the resumption of diplomatic relations with China, Liberia signed a Joint Declaration and a Memorandum of Understanding in which it once again recognized China.
Furthermore, on August 19, 2005 the Liberian Senate and House of Representatives each passed Resolution No. 001 of the 52nd Legislature, which confirmed and reaffirmed total and unwavering commitment to the One China Policy. This resolution made the new policy irreversible. Furthermore, the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has reaffirmed its commitment to upholding the policy.
Interestingly, all African countries, except Burkina Faso and Swaziland, uphold the One-China policy. Except for 20 countries, the rest of world recognizes this policy, and that China’s global records in recent years are expected to draw of the remaining countries.
The One-China Policy
One-China refers to the policy that there is only one state called “China”. As a policy, this means that countries seeking diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) must not recognize Taiwan as a country.
The One China policy is also not different from the “One China principle”, which is the principle that insists both Taiwan and mainland China are inalienable parts of a single China.
The policy states that “Taiwan is part of the sacred territory of the People’s Republic of China. It is the lofty duty of the entire Chinese people, including our compatriots in Taiwan, to accomplish the great task of reunifying the motherland.”
Article 2 of Anti-Secession Law says: “There is only one China in the world. Both the mainland and Taiwan belong to one China. China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity brook no division. Safeguarding China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is the common obligation of all Chinese people.” Taiwan is part of China. The state shall never allow the “Taiwan independence” secessionist forces to make Taiwan secede from China under any name or by any means,, according Article 5.
To reunify the country through peaceful means best serves the fundamental interests of the compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits. The state shall do its utmost with maximum sincerity to achieve a peaceful reunification.
After the country is reunified peacefully, Taiwan may practice systems different from those on the mainland and enjoy a high degree of autonomy.
Benefits to Liberia
Since Liberia signed the One-China Policy in 2005, China has been assisting Liberia in education, health, agriculture, security and media sectors, and general contributions, and China’s contributions are visible across the country in these sectors. Economic and trade ties between China and Liberia have been further strengthened, with the increase of Chinese trade volume to the country. Also, Chinese Government Scholarship and the Chinese Ambassador Scholarship as well as the Chinese Enterprises’ Scholarship are some of the key contributions China is making to the Liberia’s education sector. China has been and remains one of the the biggest providers of bilateral scholarships for young Liberians to live and study in the Asian nation, which is currently considered as one of the best routes for international students to study abroad. Interestingly, the Chinese Embassy has also strengthened its partnership with the Liberian media. Besides sending journalists to China for short term training, the Embassy gave me the opportunity to participate the China Public Diplomacy Association (CPDA) annual media and cultural exchange fellowship in China for 10 month in 2016. Another Liberian journalist, Daffae Sekpeni of Front Page Africa is presently on the fellowship for 2017.
The Fendell Campus of the University of Liberia was a milestone undertaking, which was built exclusively by the Chinese at a cost of $23 million (beyond an original budget of $USD 21.5 million). The Chinese government, through its Embassy near Monrovia again turned over to the Liberian government another gigantic modern facility, the newly dedicated state-of-the-art Monrovia Vocational Training Center (MVTC). This and many more initiatives in the education sector exemplify China’s unrelenting commitment to ensuring Liberia moves forward in its development drives.
Additionally, the construction of the Jackson F. Doe Memorial Regional Referral Hospital in Tappita, northeastern Liberia, commenced in 2011 at a cost of $10 million, is another China’s great contribution to Liberia. The country also built the Ministry of Health headquarters in Congo Town, for $4.7 million. China has since assigned some of its specialists at the JFK Medical Hospital in Monrovia, established anti-Malaria center in Monrovia.
In 2014, the People’s Republic of China quickly replied to Liberia’s tragedy, the Ebola situation, giving the first substantive global response. In addition to sending flights loaded with medical supplies and equipment worth over US$1.7 million, PRC posted a contingent of the People’s Liberation Army with some civilians to build and operate a “state of the art” 100-bed Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) that was officially turned over to the government of Liberia.
Among many things, China continues to assist Liberia in training security personnel, building facilities to ensure Liberia takes care of its own security. Also agriculture is core objective of China in helping Liberia feed its population as well as infrastructure. Examples are the construction and rehabilitation of highways, the modernization of the Roberts International Airport (RIA).
The ongoing strengthened partnership between the Chinese Embassy and Liberian media is a result of Liberia’s commitment to the policy. The Embassy is working with journalists to improve the Liberian media -a welcome development.
Liberian leader, President Sirleaf and her government uphold the “One-China” policy, which the she hails due to China’s enormous contributions that have put Liberia among the comity of nations. In December 2013, Sirleaf said her government’s decision to subscribe to the “One China Policy” has paid Liberia huge benefits.
Liberia dropped diplomatic relations with Taiwan on October 12, 2003 and reestablished ties with the People’s Republic of China. This move was seen largely as a result of the PRC’s lobbying in the UN and plans to deploy a peacekeeping force in Liberia.
Against this backdrop, China’s participation in UNMIL was facilitated by a combination of two factors. The first was UN Security Council Resolution 1509 of September 2003, which authorized the deployment of UNMIL; the second was the resumption of diplomatic ties between Monrovia and Beijing in October of the same year. Also in October, UNMIL began its operations by ‘re-hatting’ the troops of the ECOWAS mission in Liberia as UN personnel. UNMIL’s mission was to support implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, provide backing for humanitarian and human rights assistance, and to support security sector reform and the implementation of the peace process. The second factor also concerns Resolution 1509, which mandates UNMIL to assist the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) in the formation of the new and restructured Liberian military, in co-operation with ECOWAS and international organizations. Beijing dispatched its first contingent of troops as early as November 2003.
A 724-strong 15th Chinese peacekeeping task force was dispatched to Liberia in July 2013: it comprised 564 military personnel including infantry, engineer and medical units, 158 police and two experts on mission. At the end of 2013 the Chinese total contribution to UNMIL was estimated at 8,370 troops.
Even though the two candidates in the presidential runoff and many other Liberians have reaffirmed commitment to upholding the One-China Policy, it is important for Liberians to always be reminded of the consequences of break-ins that transpired between China and Liberia.
The People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Liberia established bilateral relations on February 17, 1977. On October 9, 1989, the Liberian government signed Joint Communiqué with Taiwan authorities claiming “Reestablishment of diplomatic relations.” The following day, the Chinese government broke diplomatic ties with Liberia. On August 10, 1993, China and Liberia resumed diplomatic ties. On September 5, 1997, the diplomatic ties broke again due to Liberia’s recognition of “Two Chinas.” On October 11, 2003, China and Liberia resumed diplomatic ties. The Chinese Embassy in Liberia reopened on January 12, 2004.
When you compare China’s activities during the on-and-off relations between the countries to that of the post One-China Policy commitment, you can see the difference. There are prospects for China-Liberia friendship. Liberia stands to benefit more from China with capacity building in sincerely using our many natural resources.
Fredrick P. W. Gaye is IN PROFILE DAILY’s Editor for News & Editorial Services, Monrovia, Liberia. Gaye is also a fellow of the China-Africa Press Center (CAPC) Annual Media and Cultural Exchange Fellowship 2016. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org