Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr Zhou Pingjian, has said despite the challenge posed by the 2019 novel coronavirus on its economic and social development, China’s economy remained irreversible.
Zhou gave the assurance in Abuja during the sub-national cooperation forum between Nigeria and China which had in attendance, the Deputy Governor of Plateau State, Professor Sonni Gwanle Tyoden, the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) and Heads of State Liaison Offices in Abuja.
Zhou said COVID-19 was a major public health emergency that has spread with the fastest speed, caused by the most extensive infection and is the most difficult to contain in China since the founding of China.
He noted that COVID-19 had brought various challenges to China’s economic and social development, but assured that the challenges were short-lived and limited.
“China’s economy is resilient and full of vitality and it will not be reversed by the epidemic. Its long-term upward trend remains unchanged and the fundamentals supporting China’s economic development will not be easily shaken,” Zhou said.
Zhou further said China’s economy had a solid foundation, disclosing that in 2019, China’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) stood at $14.4 trillion, increasing by 6.1 percent.
“This growth rate is much higher than the world average. It is in fact, the highest in the trillion-dollar club. Over the years, China has been contributing about 30 percent of world economic growth. China is the world’s largest trader of goods, biggest holder of foreign exchange reserves, the biggest tourism market, second largest destination for foreign investment and a major trading partner with over 130 countries.
“China is the only country in the world that has all the industries under the industrial classifications issued by the UN. China has the world’s most extensive high-speed rail network, with the length of rails in operation reaching 35,000 kilometers. That is more than two-thirds of the world’s total high speed rails,” Zhou added.
The envoy further said as the largest developing country in the world, China had enormous potentials for further development.
“In 2019, China’s per capital GDP passed the 10,000-dollar line for the first time in history. China’s enormous market, with more than 1.4 billion people and 400 million middle-income consumers, is a unique strength.
“Retail sales of consumer goods in China have exceeded 40 trillion RMB yuan. Going forward, consumption will play an even bigger role in driving China’s economic growth. China has seen thriving development in digital economy, cyber economy and sharing economy. In 2019, online retail sales increased by 19.5 percent year-on-year,” Zhou also said.
Earlier, Zhou disclosed that the trade volume between China and Nigeria reached a total sum of $19.27 billion in 2019.
The Chinese envoy said the figures, when compared to 1971 when both countries established diplomatic ties, was around 1900 times.
Zhou further said the trade growth between both countries was 26.3 percent, ranking first among China’s top 40 trading partners.
He also said China’s imports from Nigeria increased to 43.1 percent, adding that with numerous achievements made in the China-Nigeria cooperation, the sub-national cooperation has been playing an important and unique role in the whole picture and definitely has great potential in the future.
Zhou stated that as the largest developing country in the world, China takes deep pride in its ever stronger partnership with Nigeria, the largest developing country in Africa.
He noted that since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1971 and strategic partnership in 2005 in particular, the all-round, wide-ranging and high-quality bilateral cooperation between China and Nigeria have been a pacesetter for China-Africa cooperation.
Zhou also said as a result of the strategic guidance and personal commitment of President Xi Jinping and President Muhammadu Buhari, both countries have significantly enhanced political trust and secured fruitful outcomes in practical cooperation.
“China-Nigeria relations are at their best time in history and face new opportunities of growth.
“In 2009, the two-way trade between China and Nigeria reached 19.27 billion dollars, which was around 1900 times that of 1971 when the diplomatic ties was established. And the trade growth was 26.3 percent ranking first among China’s top 40 trading partners. China’s imports from Nigeria increased by 43.1 percent. With numerous achievements made in China-Nigeria cooperation, the sub-national cooperation has been playing an important and unique role in the whole picture and definitely has great potential in the future,” Zhou stated.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the NGF and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, said it was heart-warming to note that China has been able to contain the virus.
Fayemi who was represented by the Director of Strategy and Research, NGF Secretariat, Alhaji Abdullateef Shittu, also said it was instructive to learn that the mortality rate in China was going down to about 3.5 percent.
“The speed with which the Chinese Government has been able to contain this and over 36,000 people have been discharged, these are marks of successes that have been achieved in the process,” Shittu said.
On his part, Tyoden said Nigeria has a lot to learn from the efforts of China in containing the virus.