A Young Ghanaian Very Pro-China — Interview with Dr. Winfred Nii Okai Hammond, Ghana’s Ambassador to China

Winfred Nii Okai Hammond, Ambassador of Ghana to China. Photo: Fu Yongchao/Haiwainet

“I got to know China at a very young age. I remember it was in 1964, when Prime Minister Zhou Enlai visited Ghana. At that time, many Ghanaian children could pronounce the three words of “Zhou Enlai” from Haiwainet the other day, Dr. Winfred Nii Okai Hammond, Ghana’s Ambassador to China, began with a souvenir clip: “I know a lot about the beginning of the China-Ghanaian friendship and I have followed China’s development ever since.” Hammond commented, “I always hoped that one day I could come to China to work. And now my wish has come true.”

A farmer checks cocoa growth on a cocoa plantation in the Eastern Region of Ghana.  Photo: Xinhua

A farmer checks cocoa growth on a cocoa plantation in the Eastern Region of Ghana. Photo: Xinhua

“I took a photo with Academician Yuan Longping”

In 2013, Hammond, then working at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, first set foot in China. During this short working visit, he visited Academician Yuan Longping to learn about technologies related to agriculture. “Academician Yuan Longping used his wisdom and technology to help my country increase rice production. Ghanaians respect him a lot. I took a photo with Academician Yuan Longping.” Hammond shared with us.

In 2021, appointed as Ghana’s Ambassador to China, Hammond exclaimed, “I am no longer an observer of China’s development”, rather he saw his wish to “work in China” come true. “I have always been interested in China and have read many books about China. For me, taking the post of Ghana’s Ambassador to China marks a new step for me. I hope to take advantage of this opportunity and learn more about China and the Chinese people.” Hammond said frankly.

Talking about his feelings upon arriving in Beijing, Hammond mentioned that “the air is pretty chilly.” He commented that compared to 2013, Beijing’s air quality has improved significantly, thanks to China’s tireless efforts in pursuing sustainable development and using clean energy. “China pays attention to environmental development and makes the whole country cleaner.”

From North China to South China, from businesses to universities, since Hammond took over as ambassador, his schedule has been packed with travel across China. “Whenever I go to different areas, the locals always introduce me to their local specialties with pride.” Hammond told us, “Everyone would friendly share local culture and cuisine with you. Chinese people have great hospitality.”

Through the joyful faces of the people, Hammond could strongly feel the seismic changes in Chinese society. He believes that “if a country wants to develop, it must pay particular attention to its rural areas. In China, I saw that rural people were not left behind in the country’s development process”. According to him, the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the government have not only helped rural people engage in farming and farming, but also devoted themselves to ensuring people’s livelihood by building the rural system. medical care and education as well as promoting environmental development in rural areas. “It’s quite an achievement that China has managed to lift so many people out of poverty in such a short time. I believe the CCP will lead China to even greater achievements,” Hammond said.

Kingsford, who is from Ghana, founded Hainan Kingsford International Trading Company in Haikou and also opened a second office for the company in Ghana.  Photo: Yuan Chen

Kingsford, who is from Ghana, founded Hainan Kingsford International Trading Company in Haikou and also opened a second office for the company in Ghana. The company is primarily engaged in import and export trade, focusing on products such as shea butter and African black soap. His company benefits from the duty-free policy of the Hainan Free Trade Port, importing raw materials from Africa and other places, and processing them into products in Hainan for sale to mainland China and the rest of the world. world, duty-free import, import makes the connection between VAT and consumption tax. Photo: Yuan Chen

I was recommended Chinese products while browsing the Internet

“In today’s world, no country is an island.” Hammond said, “In the new historical period, we aspire to see China’s enhanced cooperation and exchanges with the world. Hammond is confident in the future between China and Africa. According to him, China has good relations with many African countries and benefits the African people. “Ghana’s biggest trading partner and investor is China. For our generation, in various fields like road, railway and bridge construction as well as agriculture and industry, we see Chinese friends everywhere. Ghana aspires to deepen its cooperation with China.”

The friends all sent greetings when they learned that Hammond was about to take up his post as Ghana’s ambassador to China: “You seem to have a lot more friends all of a sudden! He smiled.

Hammond believes that Africa is not only endowed with abundant natural resources, but also huge potential markets for development. It can be win-win with Chinese investors. The African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat is located in Ghana. Its member countries will integrate the resources of the African continent and strengthen cooperation. Infrastructure development should take the lead. Hammond said that in this regard, the “Belt and Road” initiative which emphasizes connectivity and the “China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035” which clearly puts forward the trade promotion agenda have provided Africa with development opportunities.

Hammond pays particular attention to the development of e-commerce. According to him, the Ghanaian people have great needs for Chinese products. From building materials to telecommunication gadgets to food, Chinese-made products are already a part of Ghanaian life. “Before coming to China, I was recommended Chinese products when I was browsing the Internet.” Hammond said, “China has indeed offered a diverse selection of products to Ghana and Africa in general.”

Ghanaian girls in national dress.  Photo: Ghana Tourism Board

Ghanaian girls in national dress. Photo: Ghana Tourism Board

“Chinese language proficiency is a plus”

Hammond sincerely hopes that as the two countries deepen their economic and trade relations, people-to-people exchanges will also be closer. “Keeping close economic and trade cooperation with China can further open the door to China for the young Ghanaian.” In Hammond’s eyes, today’s China has global influence. Learning Chinese language, culture and technologies can not only bring personal development opportunities to individuals, but also facilitate their contribution to the country in terms of knowledge and strength.

Hammond happily said that since the establishment of the Confucius Institute in Ghana in 2013, many young Ghanaians have developed a keen interest in learning Chinese. Over the past nine years, more than 40,000 Ghanaian students have studied at the Confucius Institute. The Chinese opened a window for them to get closer to Chinese culture. Apart from language learning, Confucius Institute Ghana students also share traditional Chinese knowledge about tea, traditional Chinese medicine, calligraphy, Chinese Kungfu (Chinese martial arts) etc. with each other to strengthen constantly their feeling of closeness to China. “We greatly appreciate this opportunity to learn more about China. It is a valuable asset.” According to Hammond.

Hammond shared with a smile that in his spare time he would devote time to learning Chinese, but his speed of progress is far behind his own children. One of them goes to school in Beijing. Chinese is a compulsory subject. The other child is determined to come to China for a doctor’s degree. He diligently learns Chinese in Ghana. “We really envy those who speak fluent Chinese. We attach great importance to Chinese education.” Hammond thinks that in today’s world, speaking Chinese would earn you extra points and make you more competitive at work. “Young Ghanaians love China very much, thanks to our contacts and exchanges with China over the past decades. We aspire to continue to deepen bilateral exchanges and move forward together towards a common future.”

Norma A. Roth