Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Nigeria, Mr Zhao Yong, has disclosed that the all-round, wide-ranging and highly-quality bilateral cooperation between China and Nigeria has been a pacesetter for China-Africa cooperation.
Zhao spoke during a roundtable dialogue on the ‘Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) at 20 years: Achievements and Prospects’ organised by the Centre for China Studies (CCS) in Abuja.
Zhao said the past 20 years have been a journey of productive cooperation between China and Africa, disclosing that in 2019, direct Chinese investment stock in Africa topped US$49.1 billion, up by nearly 100 times from the year 2000.
Zhao also said China-Africa trade reached US$208.7 billion, 20 times the size of 2000 and China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for 11 years in a row, and has contributed more than 20 percent to Africa’s growth for a number of years.
He further said cooperation in other fields, from technology, education, culture, health, to people-to-people exchange, peace and security, is also making significant headway.
Zhao added that in year 2020 in particular, by fighting the COVID-19 pandemic together with solidarity and cooperation, China and Africa have shown rock-steady brotherhood and magnificent unity.
He explained that China delivered over 400 tons of critically needed medical supplies to 53 African countries and the African Union, even as he said China dispatched public health experts to 15 African countries.
A total number of 46 hospitals from 42 African countries, Zhao stated, affirmed to attend the cooperation mechanism to pair up with Chinese hospitals.
“I have been in Nigeria for two years. I am fortunate to be an eyewitness of so many great things happening in this great nation in spite of the challenges it faces. And I feel proud that China has been proved to be a strategic partner of Nigeria in its pursuit of peace and prosperity.
“As the largest developing country in the world, China highly values its relations with Nigeria, the largest developing country in Africa. Over the past two decades, the all-round, wide-ranging and highly-quality bilateral cooperation between China and Nigeria has been a pacesetter for China-Africa cooperation,” Zhao said.
Zhao further said the political foundation between China and Nigeria has been cemented, saying that under the strategic guidance and personal commitment of President Xi Jinping and President Muhammadu Buhari, the political trust between China and Nigeria has been significantly deepened.
He recalled that in 2018, President Buhari was the very first head of state President Xi met with bilaterally after the Beijing Summit.
Zhao also said in 2019, President Xi’s special envoy, Yang Jiechi, paid a visit to Nigeria and held fruitful discussions with President Buhari.
The Chinese envoy further said in June, 2020, President Buhari attended the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 and commended China’s support to Nigeria.
He stated that practical cooperation has been fruitful within the framework of
FOCAC, while also saying that Nigeria remained China’s largest project-contracting
market, largest export market, second largest trading partner,
and major investment destination in Africa.
“In 2019, the bilateral trade volume was $19.27 billion with an annual increase of 26.3 percent which came first among China’s top 40 trading partners. Many flagship projects — the Abuja-Kaduna Railway, the Abuja Light Rail, the airport terminals in Abuja and Port Harcourt, the Ogun Guandong and Lekki Free Trade Zones, the University of Transportation in Daura to name a few – have been completed and put into use.
“People-to-people exchanges have been thriving. In 2019, the number of Nigerian students study in China rose to 6800, which stands first in all African countries. Many of them have been
covered by a wide variety of scholarships. More and more Nigerian students choose to study Chinese in their universities and many universities are about to establish Confucius Institute in the near future.
“Mutual support on anti-pandemic has been further strengthened. The people of China and Nigeria have been helping and supporting each other, and pulling together in times of
difficulties. President Buhari commended China’s efforts in fighting against COVID-19 in his statement of solidarity as early as February 2. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Nigeria,
China stood firmly with our Nigerian friends through providing governmental medical supplies, and sharing experience on treating COVID-19,” Zhao also said.
Also speaking, the Acting Head of the Asia and Pacific Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Aisha Dewa, said FOCAC, in its two decades of existence, has driven rapid development of China-Africa’s relations.
Dewa added that FOCAC boasts of over US $170 billion of annual trade volume, while also saying that China’s investment in Africa rose to $40 billion over the years.
Dewa who was represented by Stephen Anthony Awuru, an officer in the division, stated that Nigeria has benefited from FOCAC’s $60 billion funding for critical infrastructure, China’s support for scholarships, military trainings, security assistance, agricultural and concessionary loans to fund infrastructure projects.
Dewa also listed other benefits from China to include support for humanitarian and military assistance to Nigeria in the fight against terrorism to the tune of RMB 50 million.
“Nigeria appreciates the Government and People of China for their investment in the Nigerian economy. Also worthy of commendation is the quality of work and timely delivery of the projects executed by the China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC),” Dewa said.