By Osa Amadi
The Director-General of National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Segun Runsewe, has advocated for an improved Nigeria-China relations such as collaboration with Chinese Government to create a world class Nigeria-China resort for enhancement of tourism and national development.
Runsewe, who is also the President, World Crafts Council (Africa Region) made the suggestion last week during the celebration of Chinese New Year Festival by the Chinese community in Nigeria which held at the Oriental Hotel, Lekki, Lagos.
Delivering his address titled: Promoting Friendship Between China and Nigeria: Benefits, Challenges and the Way Forward/Expectations, Runsewe drew attention to the need to activate all aspects of cultural ties between Nigeria and China, especially the reactivation of Nigeria cultural houses in Beijing and Nanjing, China. He also advocated for the organising of regular cultural troupes/performances and exhibitions between the two countries.
He said: “Nigeria and China enjoy one of the best bilateral diplomatic and cultural relationships in the world. This bilateral relationship has existed for half a century and was formally promulgated with the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1971 and rejuvenated by the strategic partnership accord in 2005.
“Even as recently as last year, China and Nigeria demonstrated their continued commitment to this robust, healthy, progressively dynamic and holistic relationship when they signed the governmental Memorandum of Understanding during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, Beijing Summit.
“China remains one of Nigeria’s key allies, with key bilateral trade and strategic cooperation, as well as trading import and export partnerships. With 80% of Nigeria’s population indicating a positive perception of Nigeria-China relation, Nigeria is clearly one of the most pro-China nations in the world.
Marshalling out the underlying reason for this seamless relationship, Runsewe said: “Both countries share similarities with regards to their strategic positioning in their respective continents, their political and economic influence as well as population strength. This fosters a mutually beneficial and harmonious atmosphere full of opportunities for sharing, understanding and exchanging of cultural commonalities and diversities among the two countries.
Otunba Runsewe, who was a special guest of honour at the event,also identified factors that enhance mutual benefits between Nigeria and China. Both countries share the same national day – October 1. For Nigeria, the year is 1960, while China’s is 1948. The two countries are ethnically diverse and share the misfortune of experiencing a civil war at some point in their histories, with the impacts still felt today in various ways.
“Apart from being the most populated countries in Africa and Asia,” Runsewe said: “Nigerians and the Chinese are known to be very industrious and business-oriented with strong family ties and culturally oriented. Both are agrarian societies.”
He enumerated a number of challenges confronting Nigeria-China relations, saying the perception that anything manufactured in China is sub-standard in quality, and the views that Nigerian government is mortgaging the future of its citizens with the loans it borrows from China, are affecting commerce between Nigeria and China. “They further argue that if the nation depends on China for technology, why would China not depend on Nigeria for the exportation of the abundant agricultural, arts and tourism resources of Nigeria?”
As way forward, OtunbaRunseweadvocated for transfer of technology, especially to the Nigerian Creative Industry; expansion of technical aids; China’s assistance to Nigeria in developing Nigeria’s textile industry, mechanise her farming and other artisan products.
Other ways forward, according to Runsewe are: signing of MoU on the repatriation and safeguarding of Nigeria’s artifacts in foreign countries and international borders etc.