Nigeria-China Relations @50: Strengthening Nigeria, China ties

By John Okeke

This year 2021 will mark fifty years of Nigeria – China diplomatic relations and the need to broaden the ties has become important as the relationship between the both countries have been mutually beneficial.

Recently, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari met with visiting State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Abuja.

Buhari asked Wang to convey his sincere greetings to President Xi Jinping. 

He said, over the past 50 years, Nigeria-China relations have achieved constructive results and Nigeria is very satisfied with the progress of bilateral relations. 

“At a time when the oil price was falling and Nigeria was facing difficulties in development, thanks to China’s strong support, Nigeria had effectively alleviated problems such as underdeveloped infrastructure and insufficient food supply, with China playing a very important role in Nigeria’s sustainable development. The Nigerian government will remain committed to promoting the all-round development of bilateral relations.”

Wang Yi first conveyed President Xi’s cordial greetings to Buhari. 

Wang Yi said, the Presidents of the two countries have established good mutual trust and profound friendship, which has played a strategic guiding role in the development of China-Nigeria relations. 

“For 30 years in a row, China has started its annual foreign exchanges with Africa, and this year is no exception. China is ready to work with Africa to meet the challenges and overcome the difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nigeria, as a major African country, has always occupied an important position in China’s diplomacy with Africa. The most important experience of the past 50 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Nigeria has always been mutual understanding, mutual trust, and mutual support. Wang thanked Nigeria for siding with China on issues concerning China’s core interests. China will also continue to firmly support Nigeria in safeguarding national sovereignty, security, and development interests, and support Nigeria in playing a bigger role in regional and international issues.”

The State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi also held talks with Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama in Abuja during his official visit to Nigeria. 

Nigerian ministers of Industry, Trade and Investment, Transportation, Aviation and Health also attended the talks.

Wang Yi said, for 30 years in a row, Chinese foreign ministers have chosen Africa as their first New Year visit destination, which demonstrates the unbreakable traditional friendship between China and Africa. 

This year’s visit shows that the COVID-19 cannot stop China-Africa friendship and cooperation. China has always prioritized its cooperation with Nigeria and taken Nigeria as a major strategic partner. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties 50 years ago, China and Nigeria have always treated each other with mutual understanding, mutual trust and mutual support. 

Both sides cherish their friendship and cooperation, respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, uphold non-interference in internal affairs, and support multilateralism and democracy in international relations. 

“China is ready to work with Nigeria to review the useful experience of the past 50 years and draw up a blueprint for the next 50 years. China highly appreciates Nigeria’s consistent understanding and support on issues concerning China’s core interests and major concerns, and will continue to support Nigeria in playing a more important role on the international and regional stage, and support Nigeria in safeguarding its sovereignty, security and development interests.”

Wang Yi added, this year is vital for China-Nigeria relations. It is the right time for the two countries to set up an intergovernmental committee and make overall plans for bilateral cooperation. 

He hopes the two sides will promote the earlier operation of the committee for facilitating bilateral cooperation. 

“China is ready to strengthen cooperation with Nigeria in infrastructure, agriculture, investment, free trade zone, education and other fields, and import more Nigerian products. China welcomes Nigeria to actively participate in the China International Import Expo and share China’s development opportunities.”

Wang Yi stressed that since the inception of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) 20 years ago, China-Africa cooperation has made important progress in all fields. 

“China appreciates Nigeria’s support for developing the FOCAC and is ready to work with Nigeria and other African members to hold a successful new session of the FOCAC and make plans for the next step of China-Africa cooperation. China congratulates Africa on the commencement of the African Continental Free Trade Area on January 1 this year. It is an important step taken by Africa in solidarity and self-improvement, and also important progress in Africa’s economic integration. China is ready to explore free trade cooperation with Africa.” 

Wang Yi expressed, China-Nigeria relations go beyond the bilateral scope. 

“China is ready to work with Nigeria to uphold multilateralism and oppose unilateral actions; to uphold free trade and oppose protectionism; to uphold fairness and justice and oppose power bullying, and to safeguard the common rights and interests of developing countries.”

The Nigeria Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama said, the Chinese foreign minister makes Nigeria the first stop of his first foreign visit in the New Year, which reflects the high level of Nigeria-China relations. 

“Nigeria attaches great importance to developing close cooperation with China and regards China as a special strategic partner of cooperation. Nigeria firmly supports the one-China principle and appreciates China’s adherence to the “one country, two systems”. 

He thanked China for always standing with Nigeria and providing strong support for its fight against the pandemic. Nigeria will ensure efficient operation of the intergovernmental committee of the two countries, enhance bilateral cooperation and look forward to jointly hosting celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties with China. 

“Nigeria hopes to strengthen cooperation with China in infrastructure, education, information and communications technology, vaccines and other fields, and welcomes more Chinese enterprises to invest in Nigeria to ease the trade imbalance. The FOCAC has become a model of mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Nigeria, as well as between China and Africa. Nigeria is ready to work with China to make the new session of FOCAC a success. Nigeria and China have conducted fruitful cooperation in multilateral institutions and international affairs. Nigeria is ready to further strengthen coordination and cooperation with China to safeguard the common interests of developing countries.

The two sides also exchanged views on international and regional issues of common concern.” 

After the talks, the two foreign ministers signed a memorandum of understanding on the establishment of the China-Nigeria Intergovernmental Committee.

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