• Buhari pledges to honour agreements, severs relations with Taiwan
Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister, Wang Yi, has disclosed plans by the Chinese government to invest up to $40b in Nigeria as part of efforts aimed at deepening relations between the two countries.
The amount, which was announced by the minister during a joint briefing with his Nigerian counterpart yesterday in Abuja was in addition to other contributions China had made to Nigeria to support her developmental activities.
He said his country had invested about $45b in various projects in Nigeria and is at the verge of releasing another $40b.
“China has already invested or financed a total number of $22billion projects here in Nigeria, another $23billion projects are on-going. In addition, we are also following up another over $40billion of investments, which are in the pipeline,” Yi said.
The Chinese foreign minister had met earlier in the day with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, where the president pledged that Nigeria would honour all agreements signed with the People’s Republic of China.
‘‘This administration is very serious about infrastructural development. We want rail, road, power, skill acquisition for our people. We ought to have developed beyond this point, but we neglected infrastructure when we had the resources.
‘‘Now, we have to collaborate with you, and we will keep our side of the bargain in all the agreements we have signed,” Buhari was quoted to have said in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina.
The president had visited China in April, last year, as guest of President Xi Jinping, and the two countries signed memoranda of understanding on projects, running into billions of dollars.
At the press briefing with his Nigerian counterpart, the Chinese Foreign Minister said the purpose of his visit to Nigeria was to implement the important agreement and cooperation reached between the Chinese and Nigerian presidents and at the same time work closely with Nigeria to ensure that the outcome of the FOCAC summit are well implemented here in Nigeria.
“In order to achieve further development and prosperity of the two countries, we need to strengthen our political mutual trust, deepen complementarily between our developments, further expand practical cooperation and deepen our strategic partnership,” he said.
He described Nigeria and China as strategic partners whose relations he noted had developed well. He, however, said when compared with the size, population and markets of the two countries, their cooperation had large potential to be deepened.
The foreign minister said he was confident his visit would be successful in further strengthening the strategic partnership between China and Nigeria.
Earlier, Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, commended the Chinese government for her solidarity with Nigeria and Africa.
He said the relationship between Nigeria and China was one that was very strong and had been going on for many years.
While commending the Chinese government officicials for their yearly visit to African countries with a view to discussing substantive issues of development, he stressed that the visits were unique because they helped to display and show solidarity of the Peoples Republic with Africa.
Onyeama said: “You know of course that the Peoples Republic of China has been meeting regularly with Africa and the forum for discussing technical cooperation with African countries, the acronym is FOCAC
“The last one took place in South Africa last December and the government of China made available a total of $60b for Africa and a number of countries, including Nigeria are in discussions to see how much of that could be used to assist in the various projects that we have in this country.
He said aside the FOCAC issue, China had, so far, invested between $60b and $80b in Nigeria, adding that President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to china last year had further opened up more areas of cooperation.
“In area of infrastructure, which is one of the priority areas in the diversification programme of this government from oil to agriculture and infrastructure, the Chinese government has been showing a lot of cooperation with us,” the minister said.
He identified transportation as one area the Chinese government had been very helpful to Nigeria.
Meanwhile, Nigeria has withdrawn its recognition for Taiwan, pledging her support for one China in a move considered as part of efforts at strengthening its relations with China.
Nigeria is, therefore, to withdraw all diplomatic relations with Taiwan as a country, as well as withdraw accreditation from Taiwan’s nationals. In addition, the Taiwanese office in Abuja would be shut, while it would be allowed to relocate to Lagos as a trade mission with skeletal staff.
This position, which was contained in a joint statement by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of both Nigeria and China in Abuja yesterday, also saw the governments of the two countries reaffirming their mutual respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each other.
Nigeria, in the statement reaffirmed that the “One China” policy was at the core of its strategic partnership with china.
It said: “The Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria recognizes that there is only one China in the world; that the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China, and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory.
“The Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria reiterates not to have any official relations or engage in any official contacts with Taiwan, and supports all efforts made by the Chinese government to realize national unification”.
On her part the Government of the People’s Republic of China while appreciating the gesture of Nigeria over the Taiwan issue reaffirmed her commitment to actively develop China-Nigeria strategic partnership across board.
Speaking to journalists after the statement, Onyeama stated that the federal government took the decision to remove any iota of doubt in the minds of the Chinese people about Nigeria’s commitment to the unity of China.
He said: “On the issue of building trust, the international community has embraced one China and China is a member of the United Nations and we don’t want to leave any doubt on the issue,” adding: “We adhere to it completely and there is no ambiguity at all.”
He said Nigeria as a nation would do everything to realize the one China policy as well as any effort that would promote the peace and well-being of the People’s Republic of China.
According to Onyeama, China is one of the countries that has been in full support of reforms in the UN that would see Africa having two seats at the UN Security Council, saying it deserved to be supported in her unification drive.
Similarly, Yi, while noting that the gesture would enhance the bilateral ties between the two countries, said China would not only respect the one Nigeria policy but would do everything to support the one Nigeria dream.
He pledged the support of China in helping Nigeria overcome her security challenges as well as supporting the administration’s efforts at diversification of the economy, particularly in the area of agriculture and infrastructure.