Li Ruo Hong;
Friend of Africa, promoting a world without borders at Peace Garden
One of China’s most successful multi-industry entrepreneur, a civil diplomat and an advocate of peace discusses his project nicknamed ‘mini United Nation’ in Beijing “Peace Garden” with Njoku Saint Jerry A. during a courtesy visit and encourages the media to give the African people a proper packaging。
LensAfrik: Among various African diplomats resident in Beijing, your are fondly
referred to as friend of Africa and an advocate of peace in a community of people of different culture and customs, what is the motivation?
LI: China Africa friendship relation has a long history C beginning from the 15th century, when Zheng He, the first Chinese sailor opened up the frontiers of relationship between the two continents during his first sail to Africa, the earlier relationship between the two continents was purely commercial and the Chinese started with such items as textiles and jewelries. This was during the pre-colonial era。
After that, many African countries began the struggle for independence and by coincidence, it was at this period that the Chinese also started the struggle for liberation C so the growing relation between the two parties was stalled awhile because of the struggle period。
Starting from the fifties, the Chinese leaders led by Chairman Mao started to set up relation in both political and social developments areas and this brings the relationship between the two countries closer. In 1971, it was the African friends who helped China to join the Untied Nation, this boosted relationship between the two countries in the early emergence of China into World power. After the opening up reform, our cooperation especially in the areas of investment, trade and assistance began to gain an increasing momentum so much every year. In recent years, new opportunities and vigor are shown in the China and Africa cooperation along with the change of the world situation and with the deepening of the economic integration.This is the kind of brothers and friendship that has existed between China and the African people through which I have been motivated。
LensAfrik: You have been described as a successful entrepreneur in multi-industry with international diplomatic experience in various countries C from your observation, how would you rate investment and business opportunities in Africa?
LI: China has about more than 1,400 enterprises doing business in Africa, some of them state owned and Most of the Chinese enterprises in Africa are doing well although they are still some problems.
Since we have enjoyed thousands of years of friendship and diplomatic relation and support without discrimination or racial bias, China is now in a fast speed of development and the African countries has been in the vanguard of providing the kind of materials we needed to boost this development and in the other hand the African countries also in its speed of development needs such development assistance in infrastructural constructions, IT, railways etc C I believe we can work on these areas on the basis of equal benefit。
China has done quite a lot to boost agriculture in most African countries and I think that most of the projects conducted by many enterprises should be focused towards provision of healthcare facilities, anti-poverty aid programs etc and it will be sustainable if done in a collective way and not on individual basis beside political propagandas, I am advocating that the media should give the African people a proper packaging especially in areas that they are very good at and this will boost the quest for entrepreneurial cooperation。
LensAfrik: “Peace Garden” founded by you in the large international
community in Beijing is fondly referred to as “mini United Nations” inside China C How did it earn such status?
Li: Talking about the “Peace Garden”， let me tell you a bit about my
background, at the beginning I was a government officer, after my resignation I decided to start my own enterprise although with some difficulties but I succeeded in both, when I was a government official I said to myself, it might be my
experience but not my end and I started an enterprise and succeeded in it and Isaid since I have succeeded in life, both in the civil service and industry , I
should do something for the society so I entrusted my enterprises in the hands
of able entrepreneurs to pursue international public welfare causes。
This is how the Kings Garden Project started. The Kings garden is a garden of
peace as we do host a lot of international activities comprising of people of
divers nationalities and cultures. High ranking Chinese officials and ambassadors of many foreign countries and president of some big corporation have joined in ourvarious activities like the international golf tournaments we often organize
through our Peace Sports programmes that we have been hosting continuously forthe past 11 years。
As the number of foreign nationals in our community grew, I got an idea
during a visit to Hebei Province in a place called Xi Bai Po together with many Chineseand foreign friends. There I have discovered a lot of special stones; I discussed this with some senior officials in the government and had some of the stones from Xi Bai Po transferred to Beijing。
During some of our activities I asked many of the diplomats and leaders of corporations who visits here often to write one or few sentences promoting peace in memory of the frequent visits of people of various nationalities to this garden,
this was how the inscriptions on the stones came about。
At the beginning of this project, it was not an easy feat, we started with the Ambassasdors living within the community to help us promote the cause of peace which the Garden was advocating by helping us write a few words, we have to go to many of the diplomats and leaders of government and industries to join hands in promoting peace by coming to participate in various peace projects and the interesting thing is; even countries who are in conflict with each other have been represented here to call for peace through their own writings, various leaders and heads of International organization like the Secretary General of the United Nations, the Secretary General of the Arab league and Chairman of Boao have all been represented here。
Several years ago, China Guinness Book of World Records gave a mention about “Peace Garden” as a mini-United Nation located in China prompting many leaders of various countries to express a desire to replicate what we have done in their respective countries by building a people-oriented environment of peace and unity。
Also the ambassadors of those countries who newly established relation with China, when they resume office here in Beijing; they visit us to create a network, countries like Senegal, Chad, Seychelles, Madagascar, Malawi, etc. and in return we have hosted various welcome and fare-well party and receptions for African ambassadors, like the former Djibouti Ambassador, former Nigerian Ambassador, former Cameroonian Ambassador, former Kenya Ambassador, former Tunisian Ambassador and many more ambassadors from different countries. We have arranged for African Ambassadors and ambassadors from other countries to visit CCTV, provinces and municipalities like Beijing, Tianjin, Inner Mongolia, Jiangxi, Shandong, etc to promote friendly relations between cities and cooperation in cultural and economic fields。
LensAfrik: Have you achieved your vision for the Peace project, and how do you plan to achieve the kind of peace your foundation is promoting at the global scale?
LI: There will always be a new goal and this is a long project. To support and help African countries is my wish and action. I am very happy to say that what we have done is not only supported by the Chinese government, financial organizations and volunteers but leaders of various countries, international organizations and corporations which has put the China World Peace Foundation on the front row of international society。
Dr. Li Ruo Hong is the founder and Chairman of China World Peace foundation, the winner of the “People’s Friendship Contribution Award” of China, Executive Director to various international organizations, President of friendship associations with some African countries and the author of NGO’s in China