By Victoria Ojeme
The People’s Republic of China has pledged to increase the number of Chinese visas issued to Nigerian businessmen willing to travel to China as the country intensifies efforts to contain COVID-19(Coronavirus).
The Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjiang, made this known, while making his remarks, during a forum on sub-national cooperation between China and Nigeria, in Abuja on Friday. He said that the sub- national cooperation has been playing a unique role in the whole picture of collaboration with Nigeria and definitely has great potential in the future.
The envoy said the move is to strengthen the bilateral trade ties between both countries stressing that China has made the visa procurement process easier as genuine businessmen people and investors can now get visa through the recommendations of the state governments.
He noted that China takes pride in its partnership with Nigeria, which is the biggest economy in Africa, describing it as a high quality bilateral cooperation and a pacesetter in China Africa cooperation.
“In 2019 the bilateral trade between China and Nigeria reached a historic high of 19.27 billion dollars and the growth rate between China and Nigeria last year reached 23.6 %. China’s import from Nigeria last year increased to 43.1 % with numerous achievements,” the envoy said.
He disclosed that the COVID -19 outbreak is a major public health emergency that has spread with the fastest speed, causing the most infection and the most difficult to contain in China since the founding of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949.
He disclosed that as of Thursday, the death toll from the virus, has reached 2,788, while 36,117 have been discharged from hospitals after recovery.
“At the end of yesterday, the reported confirmed cases in the China mainland are 78,824 cases. Among the confirmed case, 65,914 cases were in Hubei Province,” he disclosed.
He however, noted that the Chinese government under the leadership of President XI Jinping has taken “the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough measures,” which have surpassed even the requirements of World Health Organisation and the international community.
“Through all these efforts the epidemic is generally under control and the positive trend in the prevention and control of the virus is now expanding,’’ he said.
He also expressed solidarity with Nigeria, which just recorded the first positive case of the Coronavirus, when an Italian national, who flew into the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos, via Turkish airline, was discovered to have contacted the virus.
He said the war against the epidemic is a joint fight where comrades- in- arms work closer to fight the menace, stressing that “together we shall prevail.”
Governor of Ekiti state, Kayode Fayemi, while making his remarks praised the resilience of China in fighting the epidemic and enjoined authorities in Nigeria to emulate the efforts and sacrifices that China has made to combat the menace.
Represented by Abdullateef Shittu, said the governor said that Nigeria will continue to engage China to strengthen bilateral ties.
Deputy Governor of Plateau State, Sunny Tyoden, who also graced the occasion, lauded China for relaxing visa requirements for Nigerians, adding that Nigerians will take advantage of the situation.
On the COVID -19, Tyoden praised the Chinese for standing up to the challenge. He said “we heard that the Chinese built a hospital in six days, we need to follow the Chinese foot steps to learn how they are addressing this vicious attack from Coronavirus.”