By Vera Anyaghafu & Precious Chukwudi
The Consul General, Consulate General of The Peoples’ Republic of China in Nigeria, Mr. Chu Moaming, says the Chinese government is strongly committed to eradicating COVID -19.
The CG, who seems satisfied with the progress made so far, discloses that China has fought the virus and the positive trend in the prevention and control is gathering steam.
He also updates on China-Nigeria diplomatic ties, friendly visa relationship and other issues of interest. Excerpts:
Figures just released indicated that the spread of Coronavirusis coming down. How is the Chinese government tackling the spread and are there measures to eradicate it?
Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease or Covid-19, China has fought a people’s war on it, and the positive trend in the prevention and control is gathering steam. Though the virus has infected more than 80,000 people, new cases are declining, with the number of recovered patients rapidly increasing. The number of Chinese who recovered from the disease and discharged from hospitals continues to rise, indicating that the overall situation of epidemic prevention and control continues to improve and the effect of medical treatment is obvious. How has China done it? What are the experience and lessons? Here is my observation.
One, strong leadership! Chinese President Xi Jinping personally commands the people’s war against the epidemic. He has been paying constant attention to the epidemic prevention and control work and made oral or written instructions every day. On January 7, he issued requirements on the epidemic prevention and control work when he chaired a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.
On January 20, he demanded that party committees and governments at all levels put people’s lives and health as the top priority and make resolute efforts to curb the spread of the virus. On January 25, the first day of the lunar Chinese New Year, he chaired another meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, focusing on the COVID-19 outbreak. The meeting decided to form a central leading group on the epidemic, dispatch a central guiding team, and demand a cabinet inter-agency task force to play its full role in coordination. Afterward, President Xi, again, held three meetings of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and one meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee to study epidemic control and resumption of work and production.
On February 10, President Xi inspected COVID-19 prevention and control work in Beijing and heard reports from the frontline in the hardest-hit province of Hubei and its capital city Wuhan through video links. President Xi also made requirements on epidemic prevention and control from various aspects when he chaired meetings of a number of central commissions on overall law-based governance, cyberspace affairs, overall deepening reform and foreign affairs.
The latest was a meeting on February 23 to coordinate epidemic control and economic and social development. President Xi made specific requirements for both fronts. On March 2, President Xi visited the Academy of Military Medical Sciences and the School of Medicine at Tsinghua University in Beijing, learning about the progress on the vaccine, anti-body, medicine and fast testing kit research and application.
He expressed regards to experts and researchers and chaired a symposium to listen to the views and advice from officials of relevant departments and researchers. On March 10, President Xi was in Wuhan, the epicenter to greet and thank the medical staff and the local people. Two, China has demonstrated timely strategy and political courage. Our leaders have taken the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough prevention and control measures. Lines of defense were set up. Personnel and resources were mobilized across the country.
— On curbing spreading, early detection, early reporting, early quarantine and early treatment are stressed.
— On treating patients, pooling together patients, experts, resources, as well as centralized treatment are underscored.
— On January 22, the CPC Central Committee made a decisive move that required huge political courage: it ordered Hubei to impose full and strict control over the outbound population flow. A day after, all urban public transportation, including city buses, ferries and metro lines were suspended and outbound channels at the airport and rail stations closed in Wuhan, home to more than 10 million people. It is an unprecedented move in modern Chinese history, but an effective one.
China took serious measures at the epicenter, at the source, which not only protected Chinese people, but also prevented the spreading of the virus to other countries.
Three, China has taken effective measures.
Along with that move, a series of other measures were also introduced to mobilize the whole country to contain the epidemic.
— More than 330 medical teams consisting of some 41,600 medical personnel, both civilian and military, have been dispatched to Hubei province from across the country.
— Specialized hospitals were swiftly built and started operation in Wuhan, in addition to various makeshift hospitals converted from gymnasiums, convention and exhibition centers to treat COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms.
— Ensuring the provision of medical supplies in Hubei province was prioritized and 19 provinces paired with other cities in Hubei to provide one-on-one support.
— In light of the serious problems that occurred in the early-stage prevention and control work in Hubei and Wuhan, the CPC Central Committee promptly put forward rectification requirements and adjusted the leadership of the CPC Hubei provincial committee and Wuhan municipal committee.
— The Spring Festival holiday was extended to delay possible travel peaks. Arrangements were made to postpone the start of the new school semester, promote the flexible resumption of businesses and reduce the pressure on transportation.
— Measures were taken to support manufacturers of medical protective suits, masks and other epidemic prevention and control materials that are in urgent need, help them quickly resume production and expand capacity.
— Unified national distribution was put in place for essential materials, and the production and supply of daily necessities, coal, electricity, oil and gas were secured.
— Order in medical institutions and the market was maintained, in addition to crackdown on epidemic-related crimes, and strengthened psychological counseling and intervention for the public.
— Public communication was procedure-based and strengthened.
Four, international cooperation:
— China has always adhered to the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind and an attitude of openness, transparency and responsibility, sharing information with the WHO and the international community in a timely fashion as well as actively responding to the concerns of various sides and strengthening international cooperation, so as to prevent the epidemic from spreading around the world.
— China is not fighting alone. The international community has given us valuable moral and material support. This joint fight is strengthening the friendship between the Chinese people and peoples across the world.
— Leaders of more than 160 countries and international organizations have sent letters or messages to express their firm support. Political leaders around the world have spoken in public to cheer for Wuhan and for China.
— President Muhammadu Buhari extended his good wishes to President Xi Jinping and citizens of the People’s Republic of China, saying it was important to let them know that Nigeria and her citizens were also standing by them during this coronavirus outbreak.
The President hailed China’s efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus and the country’s collaboration with international agencies and other countries on the matter as exemplary. He prayed that God will comfort the Chinese and others who had already lost family members and loved ones to the disease.
— In the toughest times of the fight, people around the world are standing firmly by our side. The Chinese are a grateful nation. We will remember and hold dear every act of support.
China is considered Nigeria’s most important and closest trading and export partner, and sampled opinions show that over 70 per cent Nigerians view China’s influence in the country, positively. What is your take on this?
The friendship between nations lies in the mutual affinity of the people, and the mutual affinity of the people lies in the mutual connection of hearts. According to a report done by the American Pew Research Center in December 2019, 70% of Nigerians view China favorably. This explicitly demonstrates the positive outcome of the bi-lateral relationship between our two countries and the two peoples. Recently, when the Chinese people are fighting the coronavirus, we’re happy to see the Nigerian people are giving full support.
President Buhari sent a message of strong support to President Xi Jinping, saying that Nigeria and her citizens are standing by China during this coronavirus outbreak. At this difficult time, Governor Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State also expressed that Lagos State is ready for business and welcomes Chinese investors to come.
Here’s a picture taken by a Chinese photographer. It’s a Nigerian student in China’s Chongqing city, helping the community fight the coronavirus as a volunteer. The Chinese are a grateful nation. We will remember and hold dear every act of support.
China-Nigeria diplomatic trade agreements have positive impacts on the volume of trade and the number of Chinese nationals in Nigeria. From your point of view, would you say same about Nigeria and her nationals in China?
China will open its door only wider to the world, including Nigeria and welcome more and more Nigerians investing in China.
China will continue to open up its market. China has a population of 1.4 billion. Its middle-income population is the biggest in the world. The huge Chinese market points to a potential that is simply unlimited. China will better leverage the fundamental role of domestic consumption in economic development and foster a more robust domestic market to boost growth at home and create more room for global growth.
China will give greater importance to import. We will continue to lower tariffs and institutional transaction costs, develop demonstration zones to promote import trade by creative means, and import more high-quality goods and services from around the world.
We will take steps to promote balanced development of both imports and exports, of trade in goods and services, of two-way trade and investment, and of trade and industry. This way, we will ensure a free yet orderly flow of both international and domestic factors of production, improve the efficient allocation of resources, and deepen integration of markets.
China will continue to optimize its opening-up structure. China’s opening-up is all-dimensional and all-sectoral. A new structure of all-out opening-up is quick in the making. China will continue to encourage bold trials and experiments in pilot free trade zones and quicken the development of the Hainan Free Trade Port as pacesetters of opening-up in China.
China will continue to implement integrated regional development strategies for the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Yangtze River Economic Belt, the Yangtze River Delta region, and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and draw up a new national strategy for environmental protection and high-quality development in the Yellow River basin. The purpose is to seek greater synergy of opening-up among different parts of the country.
China will continue to improve the business environment. Proper business environment provides the necessary condition for enterprises to survive and thrive. In October 2019, China issued a regulation on optimizing the business environment.
Going forward, China will continue to remove major constraints on economic development, gear up reforms regarding key links and areas, and modernize the system and capacity for governance as an institutional support for high-standard opening-up and high-quality development.
China will continue to foster an enabling business environment that is based on market principles, governed by law, and up to international standards. We will give foreign investments greater market access to more sectors, shorten the negative list further, and improve institutions for investment promotion and protection and for information reporting.
How favorable is China entry and resident permits to Nigerians intending travelling and residing in China?
China welcomes Nigerians to go to China for business, sightseeing, or investment. My consulate provides good service and facilitation for all Nigerian visa applicants.
By granting permanent residence to foreigners, China can attract professionals and investment, which is a common practice for many countries to promote their development.
China’s Ministry of Justice last month published draft rules on foreigners’ permanent residence to solicit public opinions.
The draft rule clarifies that the ID card is the identity certificate for foreigners with permanent residence inside China.
Foreigners of internationally acknowledged achievements in the fields of economics, science and technology, education, culture, health, and sports could apply for permanent residence.
Foreigners who have made outstanding contributions to China’s economic and social development could apply for permanent residence upon the recommendations of relevant national departments or provincial-level governments.
The draft rule requires permanent foreign residents to live in China for at least three months each year.
Departments under the State Council and government at all levels should provide convenience for permanent foreign residents when they need banking, education, medical and transportation services, according to the draft rule.
Chinese investments and industrialization in Nigeria, as compared to other foreign countries, are far beyond expectations of many. What can you say took China this far?
China-Nigeria relations are now at their best in history. Nigeria is an important developed market for Chinese technology, and an increasing number of Chinese industries are relocating to Nigeria in search of wider opportunities to further the BRI, build infrastructure facilities, transfer skills and create jobs.
Since Nigeria is aiming to become a global logistics center connected to the whole of Africa, it is improving its infrastructure, including power facilities, roads, and railways. And China will surely play an active part in these projects.
The continuous and in-depth development of China-Nigeria economic and trade relations is in the common interests of the two peoples. We believe that cooperation will yield win-win results for Nigeria and China.
How relatively improved is the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), alongside other Win-Win cooperation with Nigeria, viewed as the most pro-Chinese country in the world?
The 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit proves to be a historic event for China-Africa solidarity and cooperation. Nigeria, as a major country in Africa, has made significant contributions to the complete success of the Summit.
Under the theme of the FOCAC Beijing Summit, “China and Africa: toward an even stronger community with a shared future through win-win cooperation”, the Eight Major Initiatives mapped out comprehensive plans for the priority areas and key directions of China-Africa cooperation in three years and beyond. Industrial promotion, Infrastructure cooperation, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, health and hygiene, people-to-people and cultural exchanges, peace and security, all these Eight Major Initiatives can bring more opportunities, incentives and space for China-Africa cooperation.
Shortly after the conclusion of the Beijing Summit, China has released detailed elaboration on the Eight Major Initiatives and the pledged $60 billion funding support. China is the largest developing country in the world, while Nigeria is the largest developing country in Africa.
China-Nigeria cooperation is brotherly South-South cooperation between two equal partners and is indeed mutually beneficial. China is willing to deepen cooperation with Nigeria in fields such as infrastructure, agriculture and production capacity, enhance people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and support Nigeria’s economic and social development so that the bilateral cooperation can become a model for China-Africa cooperation.