Liberia-China Friendship: A “Personal Terrorism Experience” Lesson from the “Senior Sister”

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Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with Liberian President George Weah at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 1, 2018. (Xinhua/Zhang Ling)

CHINA’S “SENIORITY” OVER LIBERIA: 

‘Senior Sister on all areas: Longevity of existence, population, education, military might, agriculture, self-reliance, etc.

THE CHINA’S “TERRORISM” EXPERIENCE 

In the Conference Room of the Embassy of China in Liberia on Saturday, January 11, 2020, a projector-relayed information on a red background had the following banner headline: “Broadcasting Documentary on Fighting Terrorism in Xinjiang” Below the headline were words: “Embassy of China in Liberia in Saturday, January 11, 2020”


By Samuel G. Dweh, [email protected], Contributing Writer


Two documentaries were shown: “Fighting Terrorism in Xinjiang” and “The Black Hand: The East Turkistan Islamic Movement and Terrorism in Xinjiang” Both documentaries were parts of the Chinese Embassy’s “Reception” for its “Liberian friends” in the Government circle and private citizens ring.

The hall was full with officials of the Chinese Embassy; representatives of the Government of Liberia; representatives of the State-owned media of Liberia; representatives of Liberia’s independent media institutions; president of the Liberia Association of Writers (LAW); and many other private institutions. 

Minutes later, the “writing” changed to “horrible images”: real bombs exploding and uprooting houses and cars; cars running through dense of persons (standing and walking) and killing some on the streets at different times and places; groups of persons with various different metal and wooden objects “hacking” other people in Airport Terminus and Train Stations; a mob of persons throwing petrol bombs or setting fire to police vehicles and non-Government cars. Other footages showed queues of masked persons drilling with flags; group of men and women brandishing a flag with “Arabic words” writing on the flag and some continuously calling “jihad”; a man showing two kids how to “shoot” a pistol; and different Chinese University Lecturers, a Chinese Muslim Scholars, and a non-Chinese Diplomat speaking on the “terrorist actions”

Each documentary focuses much on a Chinese terrorist group—ETIM—as the brainchild behind the terrorist attacks in Xinjiang—and with connection to international terrorist groups including Al-Qaeda. (In the documentary, one of ETIM’s members, Hesen Mexsum, spoke about ETIM’s connection with Al-Qaeda and several meetings with Al-Qaeda’s leader Osama Bin Laden.)  

A person’s voice (narration) went along with the images.

The attention of the watching group was fixed to the “moving pictures” on the screen. 

The playground of these “terrorist actions”, shown in the documentary, is Xinjiang—a Province of the People’s Republic of China.

Portion of a Book, titled “Vocational Education and Training in Xinjiang”, I picked among “free Books” on display at the Chinese Embassy on the day (Saturday, January 11, 2020) throws a light on terrorism in Xinjiang:

       “Terrorism and extremism have a long   history in Xinjiang. From the early 20th century to the late 1940s, separatists and religious extremist forces, spreading “Pan-Turkism” and “Pan-Islamism”, attempted to create a theocratic state they called “East Turkistan” in Xinjiang. In an attempt to split China, such forces advocated religious extremism and carried out a series of terrorist activities. For years religious extremism continued to make inroad into Xinjiang, resulting to incidents of terrorism….Between 1990 and the end of 2016 separatists, religious extremists and terrorists plotted and carried out several thousand acts of terrorism…Terrorism and extremism germinate in a complex domestic and international environment. They are rooted in political, economic and cultural factors…Exploiting people’s religious beliefs, extremist forces spread religious extremism through Xinjiang’s large religious population, among people who have limited means of communication outside their own community, employment opportunities in farming, little sources of information, and little knowledge of modern science” (References: Pages 2 & 3) 

CHINA’S SOLUTION METHOD TO “TERRORISM” SITUATION

According to the documentary, the Chinese People, led by the Government, used three methods to “tame” terrorism in Xinjiang: Education (especially Vocational trainings), Teaching of the Chinese “National Culture” of Human Rights, and Recreation Activities. These “methods” were shown with a group of young men and women (in white uniform) working at a “Bakery”; another group of young people at a “School” (all facing a “teacher”); and another group of young people at a “social function”  

Prior to showing of the “solution methods”, the animated version of the Book—“Vocational Education and Training in Xinjiang: The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China”—appeared in the screen in the Chinese Embassy’s hall in Liberia.

HOST’S AND GUESTS’ REMARKS

The first to speak, the Ambassador of the Chinese Ambassador in Liberia, His Excellency, Fu Jijun, who spoke from an eight-page script, said: “This film shows the pain caused by violent terrorism and religious extremism and terrorists in Xinjiang and China’s tremendous efforts to solve this problem.”

He also said: “China is willing to cooperate with the International community, including Liberia, to deal with the public hazards of terrorism and extremism. And that’s why we invited you to watch this documentary.”

 As a tradition of the Chinese Embassy in Liberia, VIP guests were called up stage to speak on the “Main Event” on January 11, 2020.

“With this documentary, we, as a Government, now have a different opinion of terrorist activities in China, especially in Xinjiang,” said Mr. Boakai Fofana, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), representing the Government of Liberia.

Mr. Kwame Weeks, Director General of the Liberia News Agency (LINA), a State-owned media entity, urged the Chinese Embassy to organize more training programs for Liberian journalists to have full understanding of terrorist issues in China and to professionally write about them.

Mr. Charles B. Coffey, Jr., president of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), said the Chinese Government professionally handled terrorism in Xinjiang. “The Government didn’t go about cutting off captured terrorists’ necks. The Government placed them into cells, which is why we saw them speaking about their terrorist mission. That was the professional handling part,” he added.  

LIBERIA’S “TERRORISM” EXPERIENCE 

Liberia’s “Terrorism Experience” has two phases: Pre-civil war phase and civil war phase.

The pre-civil war phase include: Government’s soldiers’ “massacre” (use of guns and knives) of civilians protesting against the William R. Tolbert-led Government’s sudden increase of the price of Rice (the Nation’s staple) from eight United States Dollars (US$8.00) to twelve United States Dollars ($12.00) in 1979 at a time most Liberian families couldn’t afford the existing price (US$8.00) Some of the soldiers tied some of the protesters on vehicles and “dragged” them through streets of the Nation’s Capital—Monrovia. The “massacre” and “dragging” are other forms of “terrorism”

The second pre-civil war “terrorist actions” in Liberia was the “murder” (shooting) of thirteen “former top Government officials” (stripped naked, tied to poles at South Beach) by the Military (People’s Redemption Council, PRC) Government of (Master Sergeant) Samuel Kanyon Doe, after a failed coup d’tat against the Head of State in 1985.  Doe’s Government accused them of “supporting” the coup.  

The civil-war phase of the Country’s “terrorism experience” began from 1990 to 2002, when armed  men (fighters) tore pregnant women’s bellies or sliced off the throats of men and women (to settle scores on ethnic line) and carried out pogrom (sweeping murder) of all inhabitants in a Town as a “revenge”.  One of the warring factions used “religion” (Islam) and preached “Jihad” to invoke “empathy” in and get support from the “Islamic community” of Liberia and beyond.

The “terrorism” spirit in Liberia—seen during pre-civil year time and civil war period—has resurfaced in the Country in the post-war time and has entered into many citizens. In the near future, if care is not taken, bellies will begin ripping and necks start removing off shoulders again. With the infiltration of “terroristically wicked foreigners” on a virgin-land searching “terrorists” (from other countries with a long history of terrorism) into Liberia (most of them come under the guise as  “investors” and bribe poorly remunerated Liberia’s Immigration officers  stationed at the various border points), manufacturing of “bomb” and blowing up of human beings and buildings in Liberia will be easy. Liberia’s long-running rampant economic marginalities and political strangulation (by most members of the Country’s “ruling class”) will certainly make “indoctrination” or connivance by this multitude : “disadvantaged Liberians” easy. (I said this in my other recent article on current rampant Government’s political injustice and defenseless victims’ “pent-up grudge” against the now-untouchable “political tormentors”) The current economic hardship on majority of the Country’s citizenry and political injustice—especially experienced by majority of the citizenry during the first two years of Global Football icon George Manneh Weah’s Presidency—are good indicators of a “new terrorism experience” for Africa’s oldest Republic. Recent assassination threats against the President’s life (one published on Social Media/Facebook as reported by a local newspaper—FrontPage Africa) and two major mass protests (demanding the President to resign—on his slowness to salvage the Country’s fast-crumbling economy) could engender “terrorist actions”. All these and many other anti-George Weah’s Presidency are happening in one year since he was inaugurated on January 22, 2018.

 What better way for “Senior Sister” China to lecture “Junior Sister” Liberia on “Terrorism”—causes and preventive methods—besides “showing” personal experience? 

Liberia has “seen” and “heard” the message. But “seeing” and “hearing” do not produce a change; only application (implementation) of the “message” does. Which side with the Government and the civilian population stand—“seeing and hearing” or “application”?

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE LIBERIA-CHINA FRIENDSHIP

The Friendship—diplomatically known as Diplomatic Tie—started before Liberia’s plunge into a devastating civil war that began on December 24, 1990 and raged for 14 years, destroyed most of most of the Country’s infrastructure and sniffed out the lives of an estimated 250 citizens. One of Liberia’s pre-war benefits of the “Friendship” was China’s construction of the Samuel Kanyon Sports Stadium—Liberia’s only International Sports Arena at that time and after the war—built during the reign of Samuel Kanyon Doe, Liberia’s 20th President. But China pulled out of the “Friend-ship” during the reign of war-time President Charles McAuthur Taylor—based on his diplomatic tie with “Republic of Taiwan” whose “sovereignty status” China did not recognize—and will never recognize— based on Taiwan “being a part of China” (China’s claim) China re-established “Friend-ship” with Liberia in 2007 during the reign of Charles Taylor’s successor, Ellen Johnson, shortly after she had run to the “World’s Leader of Infrastructural Development” to held her Government on construction or renovation of roads around civil-war-handicapped Liberia, renovation of Liberia’s only International Airport (Roberts International Airport), and construction of Government’s Buildings. China responded with construction of the “New Ministry of Health”, Annex of the National Legislature (Liberia’s Parliament House), a “New Campus of the University of Liberia” (popularly called “Fendell Campus”), the “Ministerial Complex”, and dozens of other major Liberian Government’s operational facilities—including regional (County) health centers. (Example: Jackson F. Doe Memorial Hospital in Nimba County)

The Liberia-China Friendship became more consolidated for Liberia with the entry into the Presidency of global football icon George Manneh Weah, especially after his return from the Forum of China and Africa Summit (FOCAS) held in Beijing in 2018 where he reiterated Liberia’s commitment to the “One-China Policy” that forbids any “China’s Friend” from recognizing Taiwan—a “break-away part of China”—as a “sovereign Country”.  

On this Liberia-China Friend-ship, and Liberia’s firm stance on the One-China Policy, more “infrastructural blessings” are on the way for Africa’s “oldest Independent Sister” yearning and groping for “outside assistance” to regain her pre-civil war “fast developing” status.

I’m hearing Liberians singing, “Thank you, plenty, plenty, Beijing…”  

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