China and Liberia: engagement in a post-conflict country 2003–2013

China and Liberia: engagement in a post-conflict country 2003–2013

Since the resumption of diplomatic relations between China and Liberia in 2003, China has been one of the major foreign participants in Monrovia’s efforts to rebuild its society. Both within the framework of the UN Mission in Liberia and at a bilateral level, Beijing has proved itself an important stakeholder and development partner.

This paper focuses on Chinese–Liberian relations from 2003–2013, after the resumption of diplomatic relations. It provides an overview of China’s role in the peacekeeping operation in Liberia, including the deployment of Chinese peacekeepers, their interaction with local interests and work conducted under their auspices. It explores China’s diplomatic
involvement at bilateral and multilateral level in support of post-conflict reconstruction and discusses the role of Chinese commerce Liberia. In particular it deals with infrastructure projects in Liberia, including financing, implementing entities, and management, labour and related problems.

The paper assesses the overall impact of China on Liberia’s efforts to advance its political and economic goals in the post-conflict period. It concludes that the imbalances between the two countries are such that Liberia appears as only a ‘relative winner’, with China as an ‘absolute winner’ in the relationship. The paper ends with an evaluation of the relationship as a whole and offers some recommendations on initiatives through which Liberia might gain greater advantage from it.

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