Surely a sign of the times: Chinese officials operating in Liberia are offering free Chinese language lessons to young Liberians - and anyone keen to learn the language more generally:
As in much of Africa, China is heavily engaged in post-war Liberia, rebuilding roads with funding from the World Bank, managing hotels and restaurants, trading in medicines and other businesses.
Chinese mineral firm China Union became the largest investor in Liberia when it signed a $2.6bn deal to go into iron-ore mining earlier this year. There is even a Chinese-language radio station broadcasting across the country for the increasing number of migrant workers and expatriates.
The growing trade ties explain why the Chinese embassy and the Ministry of Youth and Sports have decided to put on free two-hour classes in the afternoon, five days a week.
While some may tout such lessons as an exercise in colonialism (an argument which many Liberians are likely to put forward themselves), such skills training may in fact be the harbinger of increased opportunity for the country's citizens, allowing them not only greater mobility in terms of movement to China, but also enabling them to eventually communicate with the Chinese thereby engaging in more meaningful business negotiations. Perhaps I'm feeling exceptionally optimistic this morning, or perhaps the Chinese are actually (finally?) working towards making their "mutually beneficial" partnership with Liberia precisely just that.