The Chinese Embassy in Freetown hosts the media and other key stakeholders of Sierra Lrone on its 4th Sessionof Face to Face with China on theirlong term Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) at the Atlantic Lumley Hotel.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has so far impacted several countries in Europe, Asia and Africa on bridging gaps in several developmental areas.

The third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation which will bring together diplomats, Government officials, and members of the media to explore the significance and impact of the BRI will take place today in Baigin, China.

The acting Political Director, Ge Yao opened the event with a warm welcome address and underlined the historical significance of the Belt and Road Initiative, outlining its roots back to the millennia of cultural exchanges. Ge Yao accentuated that the BRI, over the past decade, had shaped remarkable and deep changes globally, evolving into a climactic milestone in human history. He illustrated the BRI as a long-term, transnational, and systematic global project of the 21st century.

He conveyed positivity about the BRI’s future while admitting that new challenges would arise further stressing that with the collective efforts of all parties implicated these impediments could be confounded. The importance of extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits to enhance cooperation under the BRI framework was also highlighted.

He finalized by affirming China’s obligation to collaborate with other countries to construct an open, inclusive, and peaceful world for shared prosperity. Following this, three short videos illustrating the Belt and Road Initiative’s work in various countries were presented.

Li Xiaoyong, Charge d’affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone, delivered a comprehensive speech, diving deeper into the history and significance of the Belt and Road Initiative. Li Xiaoyong recounted the ancient Silk Road’s role in connecting Asia, Europe and Africa in promoting cultural exchanges. He noted that the Belt and Road Initiative represents a modern continuation of this ancient spirit, enriched by the cultural values of the present era.

Li Xiaoyong highlighted the substantial progress achieved under the BRI framework since its inception a decade ago stating that China had signed over 200 cooperation agreements with more than 150 countries and 30 international organizations leading to significant projects and investments worldwide.

He delineated five aspects that rendered the Belt and Road Initiative attractive and impactful adding that first the BRI was seen as a path to peace, promoting mutual respect, equity, and win-win cooperation. Secondly, it aimed to foster prosperity by prioritizing development as a common goal. Thirdly, it promoted openness and inclusivity in international trade and investment and fourthy, the BRI was committed to innovation and harnessing technology for progress. Finally, it sought to advance social progress by encouraging cooperation and dialogue among civilizations.

Li Xiaoyong pointed out that Sierra Leone had benefited from its participation in the Belt and Road Initiative, with projects such as the Masiaka Highway, Regent Road, and assistance in agriculture and education. He highlighted the strong and enduring friendship between China and Sierra Leone.

A keynote address was delivered by Emmanuel Billy Konjoh, Chief Director of the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Sierra Leone. Konjoh expressed gratitude for the invitation to discuss the Belt and Road Initiative, emphasizing the long-standing relationship between China and Sierra Leone in various aspects of development. He noted that China had become Sierra Leone’s major trading partner and underscored the importance of equal trade opportunities and mutual benefits under the BRI.

Konjoh recounted the numerous projects and investments in Sierra Leone facilitated by China over the years, which included infrastructure development, education, healthcare, and trade. He applauded the BRI for its role in fostering economic growth and providing solutions for shared development.

In conclusion, Konjoh expressed the Government of Sierra Leone’s commitment to working with China to improve inclusivity in trade and develop existing infrastructure under the Belt and Road Initiative.

Following the speeches, a question-and-answer session provided an opportunity for members of the media to seek clarifications and additional information on the Belt and Road Initiative. The event concluded with a vote of thanks delivered by the Acting Political Director of the Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone.

The “Face to Face with China” Session underscored the importance of international cooperation, the significance of the Belt and Road Initiative and the enduring friendship between China and Sierra Leone. It served as a platform for dialogue and collaboration, reflecting the spirit of shared growth and mutual understanding that the BRI represents.