SHARING OCTOBER 1ST IN CELEBRATIONS

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Celebrating October 1st together constitutes a unique bond between China and Nigeria, writes Zhao Yong

As October 1st is fast approaching, our joy is shared and happiness doubled, be it in Nigeria or in China. On October 1st 1949, the People’s Republic of China was founded. On October 1st 1960, Nigeria gained its independence.

Since the New China was founded 71 years ago, the Chinese people, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), have found a development path in line with the country’s national realities and achieved remarkable progress. Following this path, China has achieved leapfrog development and seen continued rise of its comprehensive national strength. Once an impoverished country, China has grown into the world’s second largest economy. Once a shortage economy, China has developed into a manufacturing giant, the only country in the world equipped with a complete range of industries.

In the past 71 years, per capita income in China increased more than 25 times; more than 850 million Chinese people were lifted out of poverty, contributing over 70 percent to global poverty reduction; average life expectancy more than doubled from 35 to 77 years; over 30 percent of global GDP growth was contributed by China for more than 10 consecutive years. Even in this year, coming to the second quarter, China’s GDP returned to positive territory. It rose by 3.2%. The fact that China has become the first major economy to resume growth since the pandemic outbreak, highlights the resilience and vitality of the Chinese economy. Led by the CPC, the Chinese people are on course to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and win a decisive victory against poverty this year. This means that China will eliminate absolute poverty for the first time in its history and meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals on poverty 10 years ahead of schedule.

That said, we are soberly aware that China remains the world’s biggest developing country and is still at the primary stage of socialism. While China’s economic aggregate is big, when divided by 1.4 billion, it lags behind many countries. China’s per capita GDP has yet to reach the world average. For China, enabling all 1.4 billion people to live a comfortable life is still going to be a long-term tough job.

2020 is definitely a year hard to forget in world history. COVID-19, which broke out at the beginning of this year has become the most serious public health crisis since the end of World War II. It has delivered a ruthless blow to the international community and posed unprecedented challenges to mankind. Since the outbreak, the Chinese people, under the leadership of the CPC, adopted the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough prevention and control measures and secured major strategic achievements in the nation-wide fight against the virus. Up to date, the Chinese mainland has not seen any newly-confirmed local case for over 30 days.

China is by no means alone in her fight against this pandemic. The people of China and Nigeria have been helping and supporting each other, and pulling together in times of difficulties. We have shown rock-steady brotherhood and magnificent unity.

China shall always remember the invaluable support Nigeria gave us at the height of our battle against COVID-19. By sending heartwarming sympathies and good wishes, the government and good people of Nigeria have firmly stood by us ever since the outbreak of the pandemic. As President Buhari noted in his statement of solidarity as early as February 2, “China’s efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 have been exemplary, as well as the country’s collaboration with international agencies and other countries on the matter”, adding: “With all the efforts being put in, we know that it is only a matter of time before this epidemic passes”. At the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 held in last June, President Buhari said, “I wish to acknowledge the support of the Chinese government for the considerable assistance extended to Africa and, in particular to Nigeria”. Moreover, at the most demanding stage of its outbreak in China, many Nigerian brothers and sisters chose to stay put in Wuhan or other parts of China and did a good part in the battle against the outbreak with great understanding, solidarity and cooperation.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Nigeria, China stood firmly with our dear friend. Two batches of medical supplies from Chinese Government were donated to Nigerian Government while a third batch has already arrived and is going to be delivered soon. We shared several versions of Chinese diagnostic and therapeutic solutions with the Nigerian Ministry of Health and NCDC. Nigerian Health Minister Dr. Osagie Ehanire attended a serial of virtual meetings on experience sharing between Chinese and African experts. Many local Chinese communities have made donations to Nigerian government and people in various forms. All these have strengthened and upgraded the friendship and mutual trust between the two countries.

Currently, the development and application of vaccines commanded the international attention. As President Xi Jinping announced at the 73rd World Health Assembly in last May that COVID-19 vaccine, when developed and deployed in China and available, will be made a global public good and shared with other countries. He further promised at the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 that African countries will be among the first to benefit. At the general debate of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly held this month, President Xi reaffirmed that several COVID-19 vaccines developed by China are in Phase III clinical trials. When their development is completed and they are available for use, these vaccines will be provided to other developing countries on a priority basis.

Major changes unseen in a century are taking place in our world. Mankind has entered a new era of interconnectedness, with countries sharing intertwined interests and their future closely linked together. Global threats and global challenges require strong, global responses. Especially in the post-COVID era, as President Xi pointed out at the High-level Meeting to Commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations, unilateralism is a dead end. All need to follow the approach of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. All need to come together to uphold universal security, share the fruits of development, and jointly decide on the future of the world. China will continue to be a true follower of multilateralism. It will stay actively engaged in reforming and developing the global governance system and firmly uphold the international order underpinned by international law.

Celebrating October 1st together constitutes a unique bond between China and Nigeria. We wish to congratulate our Nigerian brothers and sisters on the 60th anniversary of independence, and feel pleased to see that great development achievements have been made by Nigerian people in the past 60 years. As the largest developing country in the world, China would like to join hands with Nigeria, the largest developing country in Africa to further promote the bilateral relations, as next February will mark the 50th anniversary of China-Nigeria diplomatic relations.

Mr. Yong is the Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of China in Nigeria