By INNOCENT ODOH, Abuja
Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon has joined other Nigerians and Chinese experts to hail the productive diplomatic relations between Nigeria and the People’s Republic of China, which clocked 50 years today.
Speaking from a virtual platform during events organized by the Center For China Studies (CCS) to mark the Golden Jubilee in Abuja, the former Head of State, who established Nigeria’s ties with China on February 10 1971, recalled how Nigeria helped China’s admission into the United Nations, which led to the strengthening of the ties with his state visit to China in 1974.
Gowon, who was the Special Guest at the event, with the theme “Nigeria and China @50: Reflections and Way Forward”, lauded the transformation of China from a rural agricultural economy to advanced world technological economy, even as he tasked Nigerian and African leaders to emulate China, which has worked to change the fortunes of its people in the last 50 years and being of great help to Africa today.
Charge D’ Affairs of the Chinese Embassy in Abuja, Zhao Yong, in his address, noted that the past 50 years have witnessed an increasingly enhanced strategic partnership with Nigeria based on mutual trust, economic benefits and mutual assistance.
He said “Over the past 50 years, the mutually beneficial China- Nigeria economic and trade relations have enjoyed robust development, the scales and areas of cooperation continuously expand, and the modes of cooperation have been diversified. Projects like Abuja-Kaduna railway, Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone, currency swap, satellite launching, and joint marine scientific exploration, are the first of its kind in Africa.”
He added 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 January to October 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.
The Director of the Center For China Studies, Charles Onunaiju, in his remarks entitled “Examining the new drivers that would enable Nigeria-China Cooperation to advance forward,” said “the robust and dynamic bilateral cooperation between the two countries gingered the historic momentum of strategic partnership declared in 2005, (Bilateralism), the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) process – a multilateral mechanism instituted since 2000 that is mostly driven by consultation, dialogue with outputs of tangible and measurable results and the Belt and Road framework of international cooperation – a mechanism of infrastructure connectivity.”
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