By Chao Xiaoliang
October 1st is an important day to both China and Nigeria. It’s the day to mark the founding of the People’s Republic of China and the Independence of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. On this occasion, I would like to wish the two countries a happy birthday and wish Nigerian friends and Chinese community in Nigeria well.
In 1960, British colonial rule ended and Nigeria transformed into an independent sovereign state. In the past 48 years, Nigeria experienced tribulations, but it has also recorded appreciable gains in political freedom and also in economic and social development. In 2014, Nigeria overtook South Africa and became the largest economy in Africa. Although Nigeria has gone though low oil price, currency depreciation and recession in recent years, the government and Nigerian people always stand together to overcome hardship. The federal government released the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan in 2017, and now Nigeria has exited recession. The Nigerian government is working hard to implement President Buhari’s Agenda of Change, promoting economic diversification and industrialisation.
China has also gone through trials and tribulations over the past 69 years. Under the strong leadership of Chinese Communist Party, Chinese people have made tremendous efforts to develop the country. The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China was successfully convened in 2017, it gave shape to the thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, opened a new journey of developing China into a great modern socialist country. With the guidance of innovation, coordination, green, openness and sharing, and great efforts of the people and the government, China’s GDP grew by 6.9% in 2017 to more than 82 trillion yuan (12.25 trillion USD). In the first half of 2018, Chinese economy has maintained a momentum of steady and sound growth with a year-on-year growth rate of 6.8%.
This year marks the 47th anniversary of the establishment of China-Nigeria diplomatic relations. The traditional friendship and relations of good cooperation between China and Nigeria have stood the test of time, became stronger and more vigorous despite the vast oceans between the two countries. Recent years witnessed tangible progress in China-Nigeria relations. China-Nigeria strategic partnership has enjoyed comprehensive and rapid development, cooperation between the two countries is flourishing, especially in the fields of politics, trade, infrastructure development, IT, agriculture and culture. Just a few weeks ago, President Buhari met with President Xi Jinping during FOCAC Beijing Summit and his state visit to China. The two heads of state discussed numerous issues, witnessed signing of bilateral cooperation agreements and reached broad consensus. The chemistry between the two leaders has brought impetus to development of bilateral relations of the two countries. The bilateral trade reached 13.78 billion US dollars with 30% year on year growth. A large number of cooperative projects are vigorously promoted by both sides. By end of 2017, total investment from China to Nigeria reached 27 billion US dollars. TECNO, HUAWEI have become household names in Nigeria. Abuja-Kaduna Railway, constructed by China Civil and Engineering Construction Company brought convenience to travelers. People to people exchanges and cultural exchange programmes are growing rapidly, the number of Nigerian overseas students who chose China as their favored destination is increasing.
With more and more Chinese enterprises and citizens coming to invest, work and live in Nigeria, we are pleased to see that quite a number of Chinese companies and organisations live in harmony with local communities. They always bear in mind to repay the generosity Nigeria has given. This year, the Consulate-General of China in Lagos conducted five “China Africa People to People Friendship Action” programmes together with Chinese companies and associations. The five projects are donation of a borehole system to Nnamdi Azikiwe University, donation of medical equipment to Lagos University Teaching Hospital, donation to a welfare house, and rehabilitation projects of 2 schools in Lagos. “China-Africa People to People Friendship Action” has been conducted in Nigeria for six consecutive years, so far 16 projects has been completed and tens of thousands of Nigerian friends benefit directly from the projects.
Under the trend of world multi-polarisation and economic globalisation, deepening and exploring mutually beneficial cooperation in all fields between China and Nigeria serves the fundamental and long-term interests of the two countries and their people. China and Nigeria are highly complimentary in economy structure and development strategy, we have enormous potential in cooperation. Therefore, the two countries should join hand together to pursue mutual benefit and common development. We are confident that the FOCAC Beijing Summit and the meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Buhari will bring new opportunities for the comprehensive development of China-Nigeria strategic partnership. Looking back, we are pleased to witness the progress we have made in China- Nigeria relations. Looking to the future, we are confident that China-Nigeria relations will enjoy a prosperous future!
*Chao Xiaoliang is the Consul General of China in Lagos