BY VICTORIA OJEME
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Mr . Deng Boqing , explains the diplomatic ties between Nigeria and his host country. He also explains the strategic engagement and the expected mutual benefit in some agreements that are being reached between both countries. Excerpts:
How do you see China-Nigeria relations?
China-Nigeria diplomatic relations entered the 43rd year in 2013. Since we started, both sides have promoted cooperation. In 2005, our close ties were upgraded to strategic partnership. High-level exchanges remain active and our political mutual trust enhanced. The economic ties have been strengthened, bringing mutual benefits to the people of our two countries. People-to-people communications and cultural exchanges between our two sides have been dynamic, ensuring vigorous interaction and enhancing mutual understanding.
President Jonathan is to pay a state visit to China shortly. What does this mean to our two countries? What achievements would be made during this visit?
At the invitation of the Chinese President Xi Jinping, President Jonathan paid his first state visit to China. It has been five years since any Nigerian President visited China last, and it was the first time for our top leaders to meet after the new Chinese President assumed office. During his stay in China, President Jonathan met his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, and other Chinese leaders.
The two parties exchanged views on bilateral relations as well as international and regional issues of common concerns, considered new channels and approaches to boost China-Nigeria cooperation in political, economic, cultural and other fields, and signed documents of cooperation. I believe President Jonathan’s visit to China will further consolidate the traditional friendship between China and Nigeria, enhance strategic mutual trust, expand pragmatic bilateral cooperation, and promote further the development of China-ECOWAS and China-Africa relations.
What is the strength of the bilateral relations between Nigeria and China? Broadly speaking, what are the areas of cooperation in the bilateral relations between Nigeria and China?
Over the past 42 years, China and Nigeria have been making great achievements. Our two countries have been forging ever closer economic ties. Nigeria is now the third largest trade partner of China in Africa. In 2012, the trade volume between the two countries reached USD 10.57 billion, and, by the end of last year, China’s non-financial direct investment in Nigeria accumulated to USD 8.7 billion.
In the financial sector, the Central Bank of Nigeria is the very first one in Africa to include Chinese currency RMB in its foreign exchange reserves, with a view to building strategic and mutually beneficial relationship with key Chinese financial institutions. Our cooperation in science and technology has made Nigeria the first African country to boost satellite navigation capacity. In 2011, the China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC) launched Nigerian Communications Satellite 1R, which has thereafter met Nigeria’s requirements in communications, broadcast, navigation and broadband access and also provided services for Africa, Europe and Asia.
People-to-people communication and cultural exchanges are an integral part of our bilateral relations. Both countries enjoy ancient civilizations and splendid cultures, and we could often find similarities in our value systems and world views. However, we still want to know more about each other. In the just concluded African Arts and Crafts Expo, the Chinese delegation showcased the exquisite Chinese handicrafts, most of which are acknowledged as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage; Two Confucius Centers have been founded in Nigeria, namely in Lagos University and Nnamdi Azikiwe University. Besides, a “Nigerian Culture Week” in China last year impressed quite many Chinese people.
What is the volume of trade between Nigeria and China; and in whose favour? What are the major import and export commodities between the two countries?
In 2012, the trade volume between the two countries reached USD 10.57 billion. Our two economies are highly complementary, and the cooperative relations have huge potential and broad prospect. Nigeria is one of the top crude oil producers and exporters in the world. Like many other countries in the world, China is willing to import crude oil from Nigeria.
However, compared with Nigeria’s other trading partners, the amount of crude oil exported to China is much lower, which only constitutes 1% to 2% percent of Nigeria’s total crude oil export. Our two countries have been managing to diversify the trade relations. In August 2011, China imported 1.1million metric ton of cassava chips from Nigeria. We Chinese side shall continue to encourage more import of non-oil items from Nigeria, especially agricultural products.