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President Koroma Arrives in China
By Sylvia Blyden & Aruna Turay
May 25, 2009, 15:24
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President of Sierra Leone Ernest Bai Koroma arrived in China yesterday Sunday May 24th 2009 as he kicked off a 7 day State visit to that distinguished country. The President who is there as honoured guest of China was accompanied by a high powered delegation including the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Energy, Agriculture and Presidential Affairs as well as retinue of aides.

President of Sierra Leone Ernest Bai Koroma dressed in blue African Gown and Cap is shown here with his top Ministers during their visit to the Tiantan (Temple of Heaven) Park in Beijing, capital of China, yesterday Sunday May 24, 2009. Dr. Koroma kicks off a 7-day state visit to China. Standing with the President are the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Energy & Water Resources, Agriculture, Finance & Economic Development, Presidential Affairs as well as the Chief of Protocol, the ADC and other Presidential aides. Photo Credit: Awareness Times sources in China

During his stay in Beijing, Koroma is expected to hold talks with President Hu Jintao, and will meet with Premier Wen Jiabao and Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, respectively. An official statement indicated that Koroma is expected to discuss the long standing bilateral relationship between the two countries over the years

During his visit, Koroma is also scheduled to visit central China's Hunan Province and the country's financial hub Shanghai.

China, the world's fastest growing economy has had strong ties with Sierra Leone spanning 38 good years ever since former Foreign Minister Solomon A.J. Pratt opened up bilateral relations during the Siaka Stevens years and championed the cause of China at the United Nations. The relationship led to the construction of most of the country's present infrastructure including Government Buildings like Youyi and Ministerail Buildings, the National Stadium, the Army headquarters as well as significant assistance in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors.

The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Peoples Republic of China to the Republic of Sierra Leone, His Excellency Mr. Qiu Shaofang in an interview with the Awareness Times last Monday 18th May 2009 at his Spur Loop Embassy revealed that China desired to further strengthen the existing ties.

The Ambassador maintained that since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Sierra Leone 38 years ago, the cordial relationship has been growing from strength to strength, adding that the Chinese people will never forget the people of Sierra Leones staunch support in the restoration of Chinas lawful seat in the United Nations. He added that they deeply appreciate Sierra Leones strict adherence to the One-China Policy.

Over the years, he went on, the Chinese Government has been rendering support to Sierra Leone for its economic development and social progress without any conditionality attached.

"Although China is also affected by the current international economic downturn, the Chinese Government has promised not to reduce assistance to Sierra Leone. In this light, the Government of the Peoples Republic of China will within the next coming two years provide two new Hydro-Electrical Power Stations for the supply of adequate electricity to Makeni and Port Loko towns respectively", Ambassador Shaofang said, adding that his government has also provided 1.55 million worth Chinese medicines to help in the fight against malaria in Sierra Leone.

According to him, the Chinese Government will also be putting up two new ministerial buildings, two schools, one hospital and two government buildings. He went on to inform that they also hope to bring in agricultural machines and tools for the people of Sierra Leone. The Ambassador further promised that his government will also be rendering support to the Media in Sierra Leone in order to help build its capacity.

President Koroma is expected to depart China on May 30th 2009.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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