In 2013, Chinese President,Xi Jinping, proposed the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (The Belt and Road). The Belt and Road Initiative comprises more than physical connections. It aims to create the world’s largest platform for promoting Policy Coordination, Facilities Connectivity, Unimpeded Trade, Financial Integration and People-to-People Bond. Since then, the Initiative has made good progress in various cooperation and won warm response and active participation. More than 100 countries and international organisations have joined this Initiative, among which more than 40 have signed cooperation agreements with China, reaching a broad international consensus on the Belt and Road Initiative. From 2014 to 2016, total trade between China and other Belt and Road countries has exceeded 3 trillion US dollars and China’s investment in these countries has surpassed 50 billion US dollars. Chinese companies have set up 56 economic cooperation zones in over 20 countries, generating 1.1 billion US dollar of tax revenue and 180,000 jobs for them.
On May 14th, 2017, the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was held in Beijing. In attendance were 30 heads of states or heads of governments, leaders from over 70 international organisations and more than 1500 representatives from over 130 countries. The Belt and Road Initiative has become a new opportunity for China and for the World.
Chinese President Xi said in the report of the 19th National Congress of Communist Party of China: China should pursue the Belt and Road Initiative as a priority, give equal Emphasis to “bringing in” and “going global,” follow the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration, and increase openness and cooperation in building innovation capacity. We will expand foreign trade, develop new models and new forms of trade, and turn China into a trader of quality. We will adopt policies to promote high-standard liberalisation and facilitation of trade and investment;
We will develop new ways of making outbound investments, promote international cooperation on production capacity, form globally-oriented networks of trade, investment and financing, production, and services, and build up our strengths for international economic cooperation and competition.
Africa has a natural and historical connection with the Initiative. In 15th century, Chinese Admiral Zheng He led a fleet of 300 ships to Africa, which has planted friendship seeds in the hearts of both Chinese and African people since then. With area of over 30 million square kilometers, 1.1 billion population, 800 million hectares of arable land, countless natural resources, Africa is unarguably an important pillar of the world economy. Most African countries endeavor to industrialise and diversify their economies, while China, after nearly 40-year reform and opening-up, has accumulated rich experience in industrialisation and modernisation. The combination of Chinese capital, technology, market, enterprises, talents, rich experience in development and African abundant resources, huge demographic dividend, great market potential will have a great chance to make another miracle of development.
China welcomes all countries to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative. Nigeria is China’s strategic partner.
This year marks the 46th anniversary of the establishment of China-Nigeria diplomatic relations. With the joint efforts of the two sides, the two countries have gained fruitful achievements from friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation in all fields. The bilateral trade volume reached 10 billion USD from January to August this year, investment from China reached 2.7 billion USD. In the overall environment where multi-polarisation and economic globalisation continuously progress, deepening China-Nigeria friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation in all fields is in line with the fundamental and long-term interests of the two countries and their peoples and conductive to the peace, stability and development of Africa and the world as a whole.
Both China and Nigeria take on arduous task of development. The two countries have corresponding development strategy, strong economic complementarity and enormous cooperative potential, so we should promote mutual benefits and win-win results as well as seek common development. The two sides should strengthen friendly exchanges in all fields, render mutual understanding and support.
The Belt and Road Initiative offers Nigeria an ideal platform and framework in conducting cooperation not only with China, but also with all participating countries. Through the platform of Belt and Road Initiative, Nigeria can obtain more opportunities to strengthen its infrastructure, diversify its economy and integrate itself into the world economy. With more initiatives, efficiency, willingness and proper forms of participation, Nigeria can take advantage of the Belt and Road Initiative as a strong driving force to help realise its own development strategy.
–––Xiaoliang is the Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Lagos