China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister, Wang Yi has started a traditional annual visit to African countries where China has allies, starting with Nigeria. The diplomatic will see Wang Yi reach five Chinese partner nations; Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Botswana, Tanzania, and Seychelles. Since 1991, Chinese emissaries have visited African countries at the beginning of the year to strengthen diplomatic ties between the country and its allies in Africa.
A press release on the growing partnership notes that in 2020, “China-Africa friendship has been further elevated after going through the test of COVID-19. President Xi Jinping and African leaders successfully held an Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19, setting an example for international anti-pandemic cooperation. The year 2020 also marked the 20th anniversary of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). Over the past two decades, China and Africa have formulated and implemented ten cooperation plans and eight major initiatives. Trade between China and Africa has increased 20 times, and China’s direct investment in Africa has increased 100 times. China has helped Africa build more than 6,000 kilometres of railways and the same mileage of roads, nearly 20 ports and over 80 large-scale power plants.”
“We are working with Africa to expand cooperation in new forms of business such as the digital economy, smart cities, clean energy and 5G. We are also taking new and solid steps in high-quality BRI development,” the statement adds.
Speaking at a Press Conference in Abuja, jointly attended by Wang and Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama, Wang mentioned that after his talks and in-depth exchange of views with Onyeama, the two countries agreed to continue to strengthen cooperation in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and firmly support each other until the pandemic is completely overcome.
Wang noted further that “the two countries will continue to expand cooperation into areas including digital economy and green economy so as to achieve diversified development; the two sides will deepen military and security cooperation in efforts to enhance Nigeria’s capacity in safeguarding national security”.
“Nigeria is the largest economy and the most populous country in Africa. It has important international and regional influences, and it has always been a major strategic partner that China attaches great importance to in Africa. The two countries this year will usher in the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties. Over the past 50 years, no matter how the international situation changes, China and Nigeria have persisted in mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual support, and have embarked on a path of unity and rejuvenation”.
The Chinese Minister said bilateral trade volume reached 1,900 times that of when the two countries established diplomatic relations, in 2019 alone. The two sides have also achieved fruitful cooperation in railway construction, free trade parks, local currency swaps, satellite launches and other fields, and they are at the forefront of regional and international cooperation.