Today, February 10th 2021, marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Nigeria. Looking back to the past 50 years, the relationship between China and Nigeria have enjoyed a strong development on the basis of mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual support.
The past 50 years have witnessed an increasingly enhanced political trust, especially in 2005, a strategic partnership based on mutual political trust, mutual economic benefits and mutual assistance in international affairs was established between the two countries. Both sides cherish their friendship, respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, and uphold the principle of non-interference in internal affairs. China highly appreciates Nigeria’s commitment to the one-China principle and firmly supports Nigeria to safeguard its national sovereignty, security, and development interests.
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Over the past 50 years, the mutually beneficial China-Nigeria economic and trade relations have enjoyed a robust development, the scales and areas of cooperation continuously expand, and the modes of cooperation have been diversified. Projects like Abuja-Kaduna railway, Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone, currency swap, satellite launching, and joint marine scientific exploration, are the first of its kind in Africa. In 2019, the trade volume between China and Nigeria reached 19.27 billion US dollars, which was 1900 times that of 1971 when the diplomatic relationship was established. And the bilateral trade growth rate is ranking first among China’s top 40 trading partners in the world. Despite the adverse effects of the COVID-19, the bilateral trade volume from January to October of 2020 increased by 0.7 per cent year on year, which was 14 per cent higher than the trade growth rate between China and Africa as a whole. Nigeria surpassed Angola and South Africa respectively to become China’s second largest trading partner and largest export market in Africa. At the same time, Nigeria is China’s major investment destination in Africa. The Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone and Lekki Free Trade Zone have attracted a large number of Chinese companies to invest and operate their businesses. The projects, built jointly by the two countries, such as roads, ports and airport terminals, can be seen everywhere in Nigeria.
In the past half a century, the exchanges between China and Nigeria in the areas of culture, health and security have been increasingly dynamic. In 2019, the number of Nigerian students studying in China rose to 6800, which stands first among all African countries. In the common fight against pandemic, Chinese government provided three batches of medical aid and timely shared its experience on epidemic prevention and control with Nigerian government. The local Chinese are rushing to help their Nigerian brothers and sisters. The total value of materials and funds donated by the local Chinese companies and nationals amounted to N3 billion. The military and security cooperation between the two countries are getting closer and closer. China actively supports Nigeria’s efforts to maintain its national peace, security and stability.
The year 2021 is vital for China-Nigeria relations. Last month, H.E. Mr. Wang Yi, State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China paid a very successful visit to Nigeria in the face of challenges posed by the pandemic. He had an audience with H.E. President Buhari and held talks with H.E. Foreign Minister Onyeama. The two sides summed up the successful experience of development of bilateral relations in the past 50 years, and jointly formulated the blueprint for the future.
In 2020, the economic development of China and Nigeria was negatively affected to varying degrees by the pandemic. We applaud the tremendous efforts by Nigerian government to contain the epidemic and rejuvenate the economy. At the same time, under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, China’s economy achieved a beautiful V-shaped recovery, making the country the only major economy to register positive growth last year. China’s economic aggregate surpassed the 100 trillion yuan mark and its proportion in the world total has risen to 17 per cent from the 16.3 per cent of 2019. China is becoming a front-runner in the world economy. The year 2021 marks the centenary of the Communist Party of China. It is also the first year in China’s implementation of the 14th Five-Year Plan, a year in which China will embark on a new journey toward building a modern socialist country. In an effort to help the international community to fight against COVID-19, China has officially joined COVAX and is in close communication with WHO and other sponsors of the plan, working together to make vaccines a global public good and make them more accessible and affordable to developing countries. Several days ago, China decided to provide 10 million doses of vaccines to COVAX, mainly to meet the urgent need in developing countries. This is another important measure taken by China to promote equitable distribution of vaccines, advance international cooperation in fighting the pandemic, and apply the vision of a community of common health for mankind.
As an old Chinese saying goes, a single flower does not make spring, while hundreds of flowers in full blossom bring spring to the garden. We are ready to work with Nigerian friends to speed up the implementation of the consensus reached during the visit by H.E. Mr. Wang Yi, State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China, and continuously push forward the development of China-Nigeria strategic partnership, so as to build a stronger and closer China-Nigeria community with a shared future. Let’s create the next glorious 50 years of bilateral relations together.
Mr. Zhao Yong is Charge d’Affairs of the Embassy of China in Nigeria