This year marks the 10th anniversary of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s proposal to build a community with a shared future for mankind, the principles guiding China’s Africa policy, including sincerity, real results, amity and good faith and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This year also marks the 52nd anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Nigeria. Despite the great distance between China and Nigeria, we have worked hand in hand with the steady development of bilateral relations and closer people-to-people exchanges. Since I assumed my post as the Chinese Consul General in Lagos, I have often wondered what has kept our bilateral relations stable and lasting against all odds? And what keeps contributing to the ever-increasing results and promising future in our cooperation?
Rome wasn’t built in a day. China-Nigeria relations did not develop in one day as well. It is the trust among friends, the cooperation between partners, and the solidarity between brothers that have brought us to where we are today. We are both large developing countries, with the same experience of struggling against colonial aggression and for national liberation; at present, we are sharing weal and woe in the current new journey of developing our motherland and exploring the wider world.
Over the last decade, in developing relations with Africa, China has always adhered to the principles of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith, and pursuing of the greater good and shared interests. In the exchanges with other developing countries, especially African countries, China provides timely assistance and empowering ability to develop these countries, dedicating itself to the promotion of sustainable development in African countries. In 2018, China and Nigeria became partners in the Belt and Road Initiative, which further deepens our cooperation with more practical results.
This year, in January, the opening ceremony of Nigeria’s Lekki deep-water Port was held. As the largest deep-water port in West Africa, Lekki deep-water Port was constructed by China Harbour Engineering Company Limited and is expected to create nearly US$360 billion of economic benefits and 170,000 jobs for Nigeria. All these achievements will usher in new prospects for Nigeria’s economic development. Also in January this year, the first phase of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit Blue Line project, undertaken by China Civil Engineering Construction Corp(CCECC), was opened to traffic. The operation of the rail transit will further improve the urban function of Lagos, easing the pressure of urban traffic, reducing air pollution, and meeting people’s travel needs. These China-Nigeria jointly-built livelihood projects are closely related to every Nigerian. They are gradually upgrading the urbanization process in Nigeria and contributing to its economic and social development.
We should grasp the great opportunities brought by Belt and Road Initiative and integrate it with the African Union’s 2063 Agenda, United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Nigeria’s national development strategy. In particular, we should have more cooperation for mutual benefits in areas of new infrastructure, such as new energy, digital green economy, and the construction of 5G.
For quite a long time in the past, China has been concentrating on development, blowing the horn of the “Chinese Path to Modernization”. With undivided attention to development, China as the largest developing country in the world, completed the arduous task of eradicating absolute poverty, won the world’s largest battle against poverty in 2021, and achieved the poverty reduction goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule. According to the World Bank’s international poverty standards, China’s poverty reduction accounted for more than 70% of the global poverty reduction population during the same period. Although China is a developing country, it sets an example for the whole world in making climate change control a national strategy. In 2020, China announced the aim of striving to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. We are brave enough to shoulder our responsibilities and firmly believe that only “clear waters and lush mountains” can bring about “gold and silver mountains”.
As a “top student” among developing countries, China’s development model is contributing to world development. However, I disagree with those who hold the wrong idea that China should have “graduated” from the developing countries and question China’s status as a developing country. In 2022, China’s GDP per capita was $12,741, only one-fifth of that of developed economies and 16.6% of that of the United States. The tertiary industry accounted for 52.8%, lower than the average level of 70% in developed countries. China is still at the lower end of the global industrial chain, with manufacturing and agriculture accounting for the majority of its GDP. It is misleading to evaluate the overall development in China with a focus on national central cities in China, such as Beijing and Shanghai. China’s urban-rural development is still uneven, and the income distribution gap is still large. Many development indicators, especially per capita indicators, are still in the middle of the world. Some developed countries believe that China has graduated from the ranks of developing countries, which is merely an attempt to squeeze China’s development space and sow discord between China and other developing countries. These fallacies are bound to fall apart.
China is a member of the Global South and will always be a member of the big family. China and Nigeria are in a natural community with a shared future. We are ready to work with Nigeria and more African countries to play a bigger role in strengthening South-South cooperation and building multilateralism, and spare no effort to support African countries in safeguarding their legitimate rights and interests. The Chinese example of South-South cooperation will provide development experience and contribute Chinese wisdom and solutions to numerous developing countries in the fields of agricultural technology promotion, public health, and global poverty alleviation.
In the Igbo language, there is a word called “nkali”, which means to be greater. The world stands once again at a crossroads, and it’s up to Nigerians to choose the path to be greater. How can the beautiful story of Nigeria and China continue? I would like to cite an ancient poem “All flowers in late spring have fallen far and wide, but peach blossoms are full-blown on the mountainside”, and the answer lies in it.