President Adama Barrow has concluded a six day state visit to the Peoples Republic of China which further strengthen bilateral relations between The Gambia and China.
The two countries have signed bilateral cooperation to support The Gambia in the areas of investment and trade, communication infrastructure, road and bridges in the Upper River Region of the The Gambia, concessional loan, and human resource development through knowledge transfer and training.
President Barrow and his host, President Xi Jinping presided over the signing ceremony by the foreign Ministers of the two countries, as well as the Chinese commerce minister and the Gambian Ambassador to China, H.E. Faye Ceesay respectively, was held at the Great Peoples’ Hall in Beijing.
The China 2017 state visit detailed specific practical outcomes to support The Gambia in its human resource in Agriculture, education and tourism.
In the area of infrastructural development, Chinese government committed to invest over 75 million dollars for the construction of the Basse-Koina road, bridges at Fatoto-Passamance and Basse-Wuli crossings in the Upper River Region of The Gambia. The agreement also included the development of the national internet broadband, as well as promotes The Gambia as destination for Chinese tourists and investors.
The outcomes also included strengthening ties with exemption of visa for diplomatic and service passport holders and to enhance cooperation at both international and regional levels. It was also agreed to increase and promote people to people exchange programmes with civil society and NGOs in various sectors.
During the visit the Gambian President and his delegation met and interacted with the Prime Minister of China, H.E Li Keqiang, Chairman of the China National People’s Congress, H.E Zhang Dejiang, other government officials in Beijing. He was honoured with a state banquet hosted by President Xi Jinping. President Barrow also visited the Forbidden City and laid a wreath in memory of the fallen heroes Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
At the Provincial level, President Barrow met with the governors and officials from Xiamen in the Fujian province and Guangzhou in Guangdong province. The Gambian leader saw first-hand how China was able to practice its opening up policy that allowed Chinese citizens to engage in the development of their country using new technology.
The visit exposed him to the use of technology to advance urban planning and development, increased efficient use of maritime ports, modernized agriculture and industrial development. The Presidential delegations also visited the Tourism Institute, the agricultural technology promotion center and the Meisee lingerie company in Guangdong Province.
At Xiamen municipality, the Gambian leader was shown how the province was developed into a modern urban settlement, blending it with the old settlement and an ecologically friendly environment, making it a tourist attraction. Xiamen also has one of the biggest ports in China, the Xiamen Port – Fujian Pilot Free Trade Zone, using technology to contribute efficiently to China’s economic growth.
President Barrow expressed optimism that The Gambia could learn from China by opening up to investment, create jobs for rapid economic and infrastructural development. He was confident that with the right investment, knowledgeable and skilled people, the Gambia could be transformed at a more rapid pace. President added that The Gambia’s land, river and youthful populations has given it advantage for rapid growth.
The Gambian President noted that China was able to realise unprecedented development in the last forty years with the right policies and commitment of the people. President Barrow said his administration supports the One-China Policy to promote togetherness, which he emphasized was the reason The Gambia was able to achieve the desired change from dictatorial regime to democratic governance.
The China Peoples’ Congress is pursuing the Chinese policy to Africa through the Forum of China- Africa Cooperation – FOCAC, and it is scheduled to have its 2018 Summit in Beijing. The partnership between the Gambia and China is being strengthened within the framework of the recommendations of the Johannesburg FOCAC Summit in 2016.
China has instilled values of discipline, professionalism, respect for authority and rule of law in their interactions and engagements in providing services. These values coupled with commitment of civil servants and civil society members have contributed to the rapid development of modern China.