EXCLUSIVE: Ambassador Zhong Jianhua reveals China’s plan for Nigeria, Africa (photos)
On Wednesday, March 16, the Africa-China relations conference began at the Lagos Business school, Lagos. The conference was the first in a series of conferences put together by Yale University through its Macmillan Center for International and Area studies.
Special guests at the inaugural Africa-China relations conference which was held at the Lagos Business School on Wednesday, March 16.
The conference themed “Africa-China Relations: Balance, Growth and a sustainable future” had as its chairpersons, Prof Ibrahim Gambari (ex-Nigerian minister of external affairs and UN under secretary general) alongside Prof Li Anshan (director of African Studies at Peking University).
His Excellency Ambassador Zhong Jianhua, China’s special representative on African Affairs, also participated as a special guest.
The Chinese diplomat spoke to Naij.com on the ways in which the world’s most populous nation can help resolve certain challenges besetting Africa’s most populated country.
Ambassador Zhong Jianhua and Soonest Nathaniel of Naij.com
Regarding the benefits and biggest challenges of China-Nigeria relations so far, Ambassador Zhong said that the cooperation has been good politically and economically. He noted that bilateral trade has enlarged drastically and the two countries are benefiting substantially. However, he stressed that some targets especially regarding finance have been set too high with only a very short time to meet the demands.
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Mr Zhong further noted that though the deadlines to meet certain demands are very short, still China remains committed in ensuring that all targets set are met within the given duration. However, he added that for certain deals to be feasible, both countries must see to it that a win-win solution is applied, adding that if one side loses while the other wins, then they both have failed eventually.
The Chinese ambassador also said that China believes in long term relationships in which the parties involved have the right perspective and apply the right approach to handling projects.
In reaction to the economic challenges currently being faced by Nigeria, Mr Zhong said China is ever willing to help at anytime. While encouraging Nigeria to look for the best that can be made of the situation, he said the Chinese also had their down moments but it did not break them, it rather made them stronger.
Ambassador Zhong Jianhua (middle), flanked by Nathaniel Soonest of Naij.com (second from the left), and other pressmen at the Africa-China Relations conference in Lagos
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Speaking on ways in which China has started making moves to help Nigeria and Africa, Zhong said the awareness is on in China, urging big Chinese businessmen to come down to Africa to invest. However, he blamed the conduct of certain Nigerians in China and the bad image of Africa painted by the press as reasons why some industrialists are skeptical about investing in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
The consul went on to proffer certain strategies that can be employed in luring Chinese businessmen to Nigeria. One of such step is for top Nigerian entrepreneurs to not only go to China for their business alone, but to make efforts in bringing their friends and associates to Nigeria and have them invest in the country.
While denying claims that the coming of China into Africa is to colonize, Ambassador Zhong said the era of such foolishness is passed, adding that the rumors were peddled by certain people who are saddened by the fact that China has come to break the monopoly which they (the aggrieved) have for too long enjoyed. He said that the coming of China into the African market is to create a level playing field in which all sides involved in trade benefit.
He concluded that if standards are improved in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, then profits will also increase as there will be enough to purchase that which is demanded. He said that an improved standard for Nigeria and Africa also means that the entire continent will be industrialised, hence laying to rest all ideas by anyone seeking to subdue the people.
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