Chinese President Hu Jintao will pay a state visit to Liberia beginning Feb. 1, which is to be the first visit by a Chinese president since the two countries reestablished diplomatic relations in October 2003.
The visit, which comes at a time when China-Liberia relationship grows steadily, will usher in a new stage of bilateral cooperation.
Relations between the two countries can date back to 1971 when Liberia supported the resumption of China's membership to the United Nations. But bilateral ties suffered two setbacks in 1989 and 1997 due to then Liberian government's stance over the "Taiwan issue," which incumbent Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf referred to as "narrow and short-term considerations by previous Liberian governments."
The two countries have conducted fruitful cooperation in the fields of economy and trade, culture, education and health since the resumption of diplomatic ties in 2003.
President Sirleaf was the first African leader to arrive in Beijing to attend the summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held on Nov. 4-5 last year and paid a state visit to China in late October and early November.
During her stay in Beijing, the two countries agreed to continue developing their friendly cooperation. President Sirleaf expressed hope to intensify trade and investment cooperation with China to benefit its people.
During the period when the two countries had diplomatic relations, the Chinese government provided aid as far as its capacity allowed, and helped Liberia build some complete projects, such as the Barreke Sugar Mill, Kpatawee rice project, multi-purpose sports stadium and its annex, wasteland reclamation, hospital renovation, and the office building of the Health Ministry, which have won applause from all walks of life in the West African country.
China also encourages its enterprises to invest in Liberia in such areas as resources exploitation, agriculture, fishery, infrastructure construction and commerce.
Statistics showed that two-way trade, which has witnessed steady growth in recent years, totaled US$375 million in the first 11 months of 2006, a 155 percent increase on the previous year.
China has also been actively participating in the peace process in Liberia and its reconstruction by sending peacekeepers, aid groups and experts. As the peace process moves forward in Liberia, the mutual cooperation is expected to develop further.
(Xinhua News Agency January 31, 2007)