Change and Continuity in Sino-Liberia Economic Relations; 1977-2016
Pennie, Christopher Koko
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Inter-state relations are paramount in the international system and have remained the nucleus around which all international and local diplomatic issues evolve. Since states are interdependent, they establish diplomatic relations through the formulation of foreign policies to achieve their national interests. Liberia is one beneficiary of such relations. Since its inception in 1847, Liberia has had strong economic relations majorly with the West. With a little or no relation with South-East Asia. In other words, Liberia's relations in the international system remained with the West for a very long period. However, with the sporadic growth in the economy of few Asian countries in the 1970s, Liberia decided to shift its foreign policy from the western tradition to by establishing full diplomatic relations with other non-western countries such as China, Japan, and North Korea. After 20 years of diplomatic relations with Taiwan, Liberia snowballed into the Sino-Liberia economic relations in 1977. Like many other mutual relations, the Sino-Liberia economic relations were marred by long years of disconnect, rivalry and reconnection due to the countries' inconsistent diplomacy with Taiwan. In 1989, China severed bilateral relations with Liberia after Liberia restored its relations with Taiwan. The situation lasted up to 1993 before China and Liberia restored bilateral relations. Ignoring the 'One China Policy,’ Liberia in 1997 established relations with Taiwan, which led to another severing of diplomatic relations between China and Liberia until 2003. Nevertheless, despite these diplomatic challenges in the Sino-Liberia economic relations, they have been appraised as a win-win situation. This study investigated the issues of change and continuity in Sino-Liberia economic relations from 1977-2016. In light of this, the study sought to analyze the nature of economic engagement between China and Liberia from 1977-1990, examine the impact of regime change in China-Liberia relations during the period 1991-2016, and assess possible ways to strengthen Sino-Liberia economic relations. The complex interdependence theory was used as the theoretical framework guiding the study. The population sample comprised of two hundred (200) participants. The study adopted descriptive research design and used the mixed research method of qualitative and quantitative to analyze the research data. The study used convenience and snowball sampling techniques to identify respondents. The study's findings revealed that the changes in Sino-Liberia economic relations were influenced by changes in regimes on the part of Liberia. The study also revealed that during 1977 to 1990, economic activities between China and Liberia accounted for increased foreign aid, economic and technical cooperation. Trade relations between China and Liberia started from 1997. Despite the severing of bilateral relations between both countries, the study revealed that significant efforts had been made to strengthen the Sino-Liberia economic relations, beginning with the leadership of the post-war Liberia.