By Raphael Oni
His Excellency Zhao Yong, Charge d’affaire of the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria has disclosed that the China-Nigeria bilateral relations have elevated to a strategic partnership with practical cooperation’s in various fields yielding fruitful results. Thereby making Nigeria is China’ major investment destination in Africa with a bilateral trade growth ranking first among China’s top 40 trading partners globally.
Zhao made this known on Monday in Abuja while briefing journalists as part of activities to mark the commemoration of the 50 years of bilateral relations between both countries.
He said this that Nigeria has surpassed Angola and South Africa to become China’s second largest trading partner and largest export market in Africa.
The Chinese envoy said the trade growth between both countries have continued to grow amid the adverse effect of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020.
“In 2019, the trade volume between China and Nigeria reached 19.27 billion US dollars, which was 1,900 times that of 1971 when the diplomatic relationship was first established.
“And the bilateral trade growth rate is ranking first among China’s top trading partners in the world.
“Despite the adverse effects of the COVID-19, the bilateral trade volume from Jan. to Oct. 2020 increased by 0.7 per cent year on year, which was 14 per cent higher than the trade growth rate between China and Africa as a whole.
“The Ogun-Guandong Free Trade Zone and Lekki Free Trade Zone have attracted a large numbers of Chinese companies to invest and operate in their businesses.
“The infrastructure projects built jointly by the two countries such as roads, ports and airport terminals can be seen everywhere,” Zhao said.
Zhoa, the China-Nigeria bilateral relations have elevated to a strategic partnership with practical cooperations in various fields yielding fruitful results
He added that in the past fifty years, the exchanges between China and Nigeria in the areas of culture, health and security have been increasingly dynamic.
He said that in 2019, the number of Nigeria students studying in China rose to 6,800, which stands first in all African countries.
On the COVID-19 Pandemic, Zhao said China provided timely medical aid to Nigeria in three batches and shared its experiences on epidemic prevention and control with the Nigerian government.
Zhao however noted that China is ready to make joint efforts with Nigeria to further strengthen the anti-pandemic cooperation until the pandemic is completely defeated.
The Chinese diplomat said 2021 is a vital year for China-Nigeria relations and this can be seen from the visit of the Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi in January which shows the importance China attaches to strengthen bilateral ties.
He said that during the official visit of the Chinese Foreign Minister, both countries jointly formulated a blueprint to boost bilateral cooperations in the next fifty years.
Zhao said China is committed to support Nigeria to safeguard its development interest, security, and safeguard its national sovereignty. In his words, “China is ready to deepen the Belt and Road Cooperation; speed up the construction of key projects so as to help Nigeria accelerate the process of industralisation. Explore the cooperation in the areas of digital economy and green economy; expand military and security cooperation with a view to enhance Nigeria’s capacity of safeguarding national security.And closely coordinate with each other on regional and international affairs to safeguard the common interests of developing countries,”
Zhoa also commended the China-Nigeria relations which he described as a pacesetter in China-Africa cooperation have gone