By C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy
The Ministry of National Defense (MOD) has entered an agreement with the People’s Republic of China on China’s Provision of Military Aid Gratis to Liberia in the tune of 3.3 million United States Dollars intended to enhance the AFL’s contribution to Liberia’s social and economic security.
The grant in assistance has always been considered the most meaningful gift from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) in its fight against the Ebola virus in the country as it has further helped to strengthen the bilateral relationship.
At the signing ceremony carried out at the national headquarters of the Ministry of National Defense on Wednesday, followed by the conferral of Distinguished Service Medal to Senior Colonel Zhao Xizhang, Chinese defense attaché, the Chinese Ambassador to Liberia, Zhang Yue said China has attached great importance to the grave security concern by the Liberian Government and people.
Amb. Yue quantified the Ministry of National Defense of China assistance provided the Liberian government to nearly 12.5 million United States Dollars in worth of military assistance and 201 training slots; while the Chinese government has provided engineering equipment gratis in the value of 4 million United States.
He further disclosed how the assistance has been amounted to sending teams of engineering experts to Liberia to train the engineering personnel of the AFL for 16 months. Amb. Yue expressed how his government and people appreciate the achievements made by the Liberian government to develop national economy, speed up infrastructural construction and bring benefit to its people.
The Chinese Ambassador recognized that with his government’s strategic assistance, the engineering company of AFL has become a well-trained and well equipped contingent and as well made a significant contribution to the combat the Ebola epidemic and the develop the Liberian economy.
Meanwhile, conferring the honor on the Chinese serviceman on behalf of President Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf, the authority of the Ministry of National Defense reminded the guests that the ceremony is one usually performed during the Armed Forces Day celebrations but due to the Senior Colonel’s early departure from Liberia, the Ministry of National Defense was obliged to perform it.
The Deputy Chief of Staff of the AFL, Eric Dennis who also presented a plaque to the honoree on behalf of the Chief of Staff and gallant men of the AFL said most of the road benefits today enjoyed by his men in the field were made possible through the able leadership of Senior Colonel Xizhang; for which he said the AFL is grateful.
Accepting the award, the honoree, Xizhang praised the AFL for taking advantage of the training and can now boast about a well-trained and professional Liberian military engineering unit with first class Chinese equipment. He dedicated his three-year service in Liberia to the support received from the Ministry of National Defense through the AFL.
Senior Col. Xizhang said even though it was tough with the emergence of the Ebola epidemic but assured that the virus will soon be eradicated and at the same time said with the hope Liberians have coupled with the immense support from the international community, Liberia will be reconstructed.
The outgoing defense attaché prophesized that in the not too distance future, the AFL will take full responsibility of defending Liberia and reminded his Chinese counterparts of keeping safe their family members and themselves.