President of Sierra Leone to Visit China

What You Need to Know:

Following an invitation from Xi Jinping, Sierra Leonean President Julius Maada Bio, is set to visit China from February 27th until March 2nd to discuss bilateral relations and to participate in a focused investment roundtable. 

Bio is also set to meet with Chinese Premier Li Qiang and Legislator Zhao Leji. Although the purpose of their meetings have not been announced. 

This step by China signals its intent to foster even stronger ties with the African nation. This month, China announced its delivery of 10 diesel locomotives designed to run on a new 119 mile railway project in Sierra Leone on a ‘bonded lease.’ 

Sierra Leone joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative – a global infrastructure project labeled by some analysts as an influence operation in 2018. Since then, China has invested heavily in the country’s military and health institutions. 

In 2011, China supplied Sierra Leone with 4 Million dollars of military hardware, including small arms, rockets and artillery. Again, in 2019, a 7 Million dollar agreement on military support was reached between the two nations Ministries of Defence. Furthermore, in another move to bolster the army’s military capacity, an additional military package was sent in 2022 from China to enhance Sierra Leone’s ‘disaster mitigation and response abilities.’ 

China has also invested heavily in Sierra Leone’s health system, with Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and China’s Center of Disease Control, running a long-term technical cooperation project to fight against Ebola. The project entered its third phase in January 2021.

Additionally, at the onset of COVID-19 China provided the Sierra Leonean Ministry of Health resources to increase testing of COVID-19 through gene sequencing. 

So, What Now?:

China’s intense investment in Sierra Leone is likely linked to the existence of scores of un-accessed minerals in the country. 

Sierra Leone is extremely resource rich and that is something China, with its large market can benefit from. 

Additionally, the provision of locomotives on a ‘bonded lease’ points to the existence of a patron-client relationship among the two nations. 

 

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger is a Political Science Graduate from the University of Otago, New Zealand. Currently working as an Editor for The ModernInsurgent and writing for Atlas News, her interests include conflict politics, history, yoga and meditation.

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