Liberians Must Keep An Eye on Chinese Politics


ONE OF OUR STAFFS HAS BEEN studying China for the past eight months – its culture, media, economy and politics et cetera. Amongst all, for him, it’s the complexities of the politics that are difficult to comprehend.

ONCE YOU SUCCEED IN understanding the politics then you definitely know contemporary China. It encompasses everything including the cultural philosophy and history.

THE CHALLENGE IS SEPARATING the ruling communist party from the body politics. To simply put, the party is the government.

POLITICS IN THE WORLD’S most populous nation evolves around the Communist Party of China (CPC). It sets the stage for everything China. It is technically a one party system that is only challenged by meeting the unending needs of over 1.3 billion people. And the CPC is effectuating such a gargantuan task pragmatically, solidifying its legitimacy along the way.

THE PARTY’S SOCIALISM WITH ‘Chinese characteristics’ philosophy is shifting the country’s future and setting a new ambitious agenda of taking “center stage” in the world.

MARXISM SEEMS RELATIVELY EXTINCT IN AFRICA, but it is China that has surfaced as a significant new ‘bargaining chip’ for African leaders against the capitalism and alleged control and interference of western nations.

WE’LL TABLE THIS DEBATE for another day.

THE DISPARITIES BETWEEN the two political systems – China’s communism and the United States’ democracy – are massive. On paper, Liberia politics was cloned out of the US’. That answers a lot of questions already.

AS A LIBERIAN, HE LIVED through the last three decades of the complications of our love-hate relationship with the United States. For almost all of our debacles, we have never ceased pointing accusing fingers at the United States. Some of our claims are ridiculously unfounded. Nevertheless, we can’t help but rely on Washington. And when we perceived manipulation, we get stroppy.

WHEN DONALD TRUMP AND HILARY CLINTON faced off in a crunch Presidential election last year, we were all ears from start to finish. The reasons are obvious: Liberia is the U.S “step child” founded by free slaves in 1822. This means the bonds between the West African country and the world super power is long and strong.

HOWEVER, THERE ARE NOW inklings about President Trump’s altering most of what the world loves America for. His rigid immigration stance against undocumented Africans has sparked mix views amongst Liberians while his ‘America First’ policy is frightening almost every small nation. Slicing aids to Africa has most definitely raised eyebrows.

THE ASIAN NATION IS PROPOSING what appears to be an antidote to Trump’s protectionism. This maybe a remedy for small countries likes ours to thrive economically.

CHINESE PRESIDENT XI Jinping at the opening of the CPC 19th Congress sparked a global debate when he mentioned that his country wants a share future for the world, stressing China’s “international influence, ability to inspire, and power to shape and make great new contribution to global peace and development”.

XI’S REMARK REJUVENATES Beijing’s cooperation with Africa. From the construction of the African Union headquarters in Addis Abba, Ethiopia, east of the continent to the Jackson F. Doe Memorial Regional Hospital in Tappita, northern Liberia, the fingerprints of China is all over Africa.

CHINA IS AFRICA’S LARGEST trade partner and has contributed over US$10 billion in aid to the continent since 2015. It is emphatic – the Chinese are gaining influence on the continent and this means, it’s time to know them better.

THERE’S NO WORRIES SO FAR, Beijing is unequivocal about maintaining its “none interference” foreign policy, while committing to “share prosperity for win-win cooperation” for developing nations.

ANY TIME, WE HEAR AN OFFICIAL of the Chinese Foreign Ministry speaks about Sino-Africa relations; the phrase “win-win cooperation, share benefits and people-to-people exchange” pops up. It’s sounds like a cliché to us these days.

CRITICS MAY ARGUE THAT IT bears the trait of propaganda. But truth be told, the Chinese know the ramifications of foreign interference, that’s why they are stanched about being a strong sovereign socialist nation.  

SO, WHY SHOULD Liberians watch Chinese Politics?

THE 19TH CONGRESS of China communist party, between October 18 and 24, comes as Liberia is also preparing for a transfer of power through the ballot box.

THE CONGRESS SETS THE STAGE for China’s governance and global ambitions. In simple terms: How will Beijing deal with other countries including smaller nations like Liberia for the next five years?

WHILE ANALYSTS ARE STILL digesting Xi’s speech, Liberians need to fathom the impact the Asian nation would have on the country.  Undeniable, there’s always give-and-take in bilateral relations: some might trigger down to the people others might backfire.

YET, CHINA HAS A LOT we can tap into. Thankfully, Beijing arms are open, so we can make some good deals.

DOMESTIC POLITICS HAS TAKEN central stage as the search of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s successor has been extended to November 7 after first round of voting failed to provide an outright winner.

MONROVIA AND BEIJING CONTINUOUS to savor good ties, complaints of Sirleaf’s diplomatic brilliance. How did she manage to sustain ties with Beijing, Europe and the United States at the same time? From a Sirleaf’s perspective, all worked well for her administration.

HER SUCCESSOR WOULD have to continue where she stops and most likely make furtherance. And working with Mr. Xi to make good deals on behalf of Liberians would be smart move. Certainly, Monrovia will have to continue looking to Beijing for more cooperation, maybe with renew vigor and dynamics.

THE ASIAN NATION HAS proven to be a ‘trusted friend,’ President Sirleaf herself has said repeatedly without a wink. China’s role in rolling back the Ebola virus disease and contributions to sustaining the peace by putting peacekeepers on Liberia’s soil when we desperately needed intervention is indelible.

CHINA HAS ALREADY LOAN US$50 million for the modernization of the Roberts International Airport and also footing the cost of the ministerial complex. By Liberia’s standard, these are landmark projects that solidify Liberia-China relations for a many more years.

AT THE SAME TIME, HUNDREDS of young Liberians are studying various disciplines at universities across China and an announcement of 30,000 more scholarships for African students for the next three years opens another corridor.

BUT ITS INVESTMENTS have also come under scrutiny in recent years. Some accused Chinese firms of environmental degradation and bad labor practices.

FOR MANY LIBERIANS, CHINA might not be a comprehensive replacement for America. However, there’s no doubt the world’s second largest economy offers massive alternatives. Trade, infrastructure and human resource developments are on the list of opportunities.

SO, ONLY RECKLESSNESS WOULD be the justification for failing to understand a partner especially the type that has influential capacities.