Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Government of the People’s Republic of China has outlined reasons why the forthcoming Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), holding in Beijing, China, from September 3rd to 4th, is important to Nigeria.
Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Zhou Pingjian, disclosed the benefits Nigeria stood to gain in an interview with Daily Sun, in Abuja, on the sidelines of a press briefing on the 2018 Beijing Summit of the FOCAC.
Zhou said besides China and the co-host country, South Africa, there will be another 52 African countries and the African Union Commission in attendance.
Zhou said Nigeria would continue to make a major contribution to the FOCAC Beijing Summit, even as he said that Nigeria was the largest economy in Africa.
The Chinese envoy further said Nigeria was the largest developing country in Africa and the most populous country in Africa.
He said as a result of the importance of Nigeria on the continent of Africa, in talking about the China-Africa cooperation, Nigeria always played a very important role in it.
Zhou further said the first aspect of what Nigeria should expect from the FOCAC Beijing Summit was that anything coming to Africa would naturally go to Nigeria.
Zhou also said as the largest economy and as the most important country, Nigeria enjoyed more advantage to implement the outcomes from the Beijing Action Plan to deepen the bilateral cooperation between China and Nigeria.
The Chinese ambassador also said another aspect of Nigeria’s benefit from the Beijing FOCAC Summit centered on the political mutual thrust, which he said, would be further enhanced.
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“Besides the FOCAC Summit, there will be bilateral between us and the two sides will map out the blueprint for our cooperation in the next stage,” Zhou said.
Recalling the gains in the China-Nigeria relations in recent years, Zhou said the achievements were remarkable.
“The achievement is remarkable and I am happy; I am fortunate to be a witness of it. Take infrastructure, since the Johannesburg Summit in December 2015, President Buhari was the first to visit China from Africa in 2016, and China-Nigeria cooperation has entered the stage of rapid development.
“So, you see infrastructure such as the Abuja-Kaduna Railway; the Lagos-Ibadan Railway; the Abuja Light Rail; the Zungeru Hydropower, the airport terminal and other areas.
“Take made-in-Nigeria with China and see more and more Chinese investors are now expanding their investments in Nigeria and I think that is mutual cooperation between our two sides and that is good news for Nigerians in pursuit of industrialization and diversification.
“And even in the people-to-people and cultural exchanges, I see great developments. So, since last year, for the first time, we held the annual Spring Festival Temple Fair in Abuja and the delegations between our two sides frequently exchange their visits and the mutual understanding between our peoples is deepening,” Zhou added.
Earlier during the briefing, Ambassador Zhou said the Nigerian delegation would be led by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said the summit was unique due to the huge presence that would be witnessed in Beijing, adding that at the inception of FOCAC in the year 2000, there were 44 African members.
Zhou further said but in 2018, besides China and South Africa the co-host, there would be 52 African countries, including the African Union Commission.
“This time in Beijing, besides China and the co-host country, South Africa, there will be another 52 African countries plus the African Union Commission. So, altogether, the FOCAC members increased from 45 in 2000 to 55 in Beijing this year,” Zhou further said.