Ambassador Foh uses people-to-people diplomacy as tool in strengthening ties with China
With an apparent zest on his part to lift the bars of cooperation ties and friendship between the two countries, Sierra Leone’s envoy to China, His Excellency Victor Bockarie Foh has called for the use of people-to-people diplomacy as tool in achieving the dream of upsurge in relations with China, by working closely with the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC). He made this call on Monday, 29th July 2013, during a courtesy call on the Executive Vice President of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries Feng Zuoku. (Photo: Ambassador Victor Foh with Feng Zuoku of CPAFFC)
Speaking earlier whilst welcoming Ambassador Foh, Feng Zuoku stated, that the need for better collaboration cannot be overstated, given that Ambassador Foh was the first amongst several Ambassadors in China to visit the CPAFFC following his presentation of credentials to President Xi Jinping of China.
According to Feng Zuoku, CPAFFC has maintained long standing relationship with Sierra Leone in the area of people-to-people friendship, through the Sierra Leone-China Friendship Association. He informed Ambassador Foh, that in recent years there have been exchanges between people at the level of local governance. The first forum on China-Africa Local Governments, he said was held last year and was attended by several local government officials and businessmen from Africa, including the Mayor of Freetown. Through these meetings, he said, they establish practical friendship and cooperation.
The Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), he explained, is a national people’s organization, engaged in people-to-people diplomacy, with an aim of enhancing people’s friendship, further international cooperation, safeguard world peace and promote common development. Feng Zuoku also stated that CPAFFC has set up 46 China-regional or China-national friendship organizations and established friendly cooperation with nearly 500 nongovernmental organizations and institutions in 157 countries.
Speaking on the Sierra Leone-China Friendship Association, Feng Zuoku said, they would like to further promote this friendship and as such, there was every need for his office and the Sierra Leone Embassy to work closely in fulfilling such a dream. He said, they are aware of the political experience and role of Ambassador Foh “in the ruling party in Sierra Leone. We are therefore sure you can help in promoting the people-to-people and local government exchanges”
Responding, Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh informed Feng Zuoku that he has been a member of the ruling All Peoples Congress in Sierra Leone since adulthood but given his current capacity as Ambassador in China, he represents “the state of Sierra Leone.”
On the Sierra Leone-China Friendship Association, Ambassador Foh informed Feng Zuoku that he has been a member of that friendship for years but however expressed concern that partisan politics has not helped in pushing such ties. “The friendship was established during the APC era. Government gave the land for the construction of the Friendship House and funds were provided by the Chinese side, but sadly the Sierra Leone-China Friendship Association has not been going the way it should be going due to partisan politics. So we should work towards bringing back that Association together”, he said.
Ambassador Foh also informed Feng Zuoku about how students who came to study in China but have returned home have formed an association to lift the Sierra Leone-China Friendship Association. He therefore suggested, that “for the future of the Sierra Leone-China Friendship Association, we should pay attention to students studying here. Am also appealing that attention be paid on the youths as they are a major challenge today”, he said.
He spoke of a special ministry today in charge of youths in the country in Sierra Leone which can be worked with closely for better cooperation. He suggested that the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), can work closely with the Trade Ministry in Sierra Leone since they have a control over the women folk in the country, especially those engaged in trading activities, “as we may wish to use this friendship in improving their standards.”
Ambassador Foh extended an invitation to the CPAFFC to visit Sierra Leone as a way of strengthening the cooperation, especially as this year marks forty-two years since Sierra Leone entered into diplomatic relations with China. “I will continue to work closely with your office for better cooperation.”
Reacting, Vice President Feng Zuoku said, with the support and participation of Ambassador Foh, the people-to-people exchanges will be promoted. He expressed readiness to visit Sierra Leone in the near future whilst assuring that Sierra Leone will form part of the countries they will be working with in West Africa in the coming year.
Meanwhile, the Sierra Leone Embassy on Monday July 29th marked forty-two years of diplomatic relations with China. The event was attended by a cross section of Sierra Leoneans in Beijing, including Embassy staff, students, members of the Sierra Leone Community and Chinese well wishers. Ambassador Foh used the occasion to call on Sierra Leoneans to reflect on what has happened between the two countries forty-two years ago, saying “we should not only look at the number of years, but the level of consistency and loyalty to friendship between the two. We should also look at the steadfastness and consistency in forging these relations…”
Statements were made by representatives from the Chinese staff in the Embassy; the Sierra Leone student body in China and from the Sierra Leone Community.
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