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Ambassador Zhou Pingjian's Exclusive Interview with Daily Trust
2018/11/13
On November 10, Nigerian leading newspaper Daily Trust published an interview with Ambassador of China to Nigeria Dr. Zhou Pingjian. The full text goes as follows: 

DT:Nigeria actively participated in the 2018 FOCAC Summit in Beijing. What can you say about the follow-up?

Dr. Zhou Pingjian:The 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit proves to be a historic event for China-Africa solidarity and cooperation. Nigeria, as a major country in Africa, has made significant contributions to the complete success of the Summit. We are very appreciative. The very first head of state President Xi Jinping met with bilaterally after Beijing Summit was President Muhammadu Buhari. On the morning of September 5th, President Xi and Premier Li Keqiang respectively exchanged views and reached consensus with President Buhari on the implementation of the outcomes of the Summit so as to deepen China-Nigeria relations. As a follow-up, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong paid a visit to Nigeria at the end of October. Mr. Chen, as the Co-chair of the Chinese Follow-up Committee of the FOCAC, chose Nigeria as his first trip to Africa after Beijing Summit. He held fruitful discussions with honorable Foreign Minister Onyeama and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ibrahim and paid a courtesy call on H.E. Vice President Osinbajo. China always keeps its promise when cooperating with Africa. We will remain true to our commitment to African brothers with full heart and soul. 

DT:President Xi Jinping had, during the Summit, announced that China would implement Eight Major Initiatives with African countries, covering fields such as industrial promotion, infrastructure cooperation, trade facilitation, green development, peace and security, among others. Which of these do you think Nigeria stands to benefit most?

Dr. Zhou Pingjian:Under the theme of the FOCAC Beijing Summit, "China and Africa: toward an even stronger community with a shared future through win-win cooperation", the Eight Major Initiatives map out comprehensive plans for the priority areas and key directions of China-Africa cooperation in the next three years and beyond. Industrial promotion, Infrastructure cooperation, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, health and hygiene, people-to-people and cultural exchanges, peace and security, all these Eight Major Initiatives can bring more opportunities, incentives and space for China-Africa cooperation. Shortly after the conclusion of the Beijing Summit, China has released detailed elaboration on the Eight Major Initiatives and the pledged $60 billion funding support. We suggest the Nigerian side have a close look at it and further enhance coordination on strategies and policies with the Chinese side. China is the largest developing country in the world, while Nigeria is the largest developing country in Africa. China-Nigeria cooperation is brotherly South-South cooperation between two equal partners and is indeed mutually beneficial. Nigeria is welcomed to participate in the Belt and Road construction. China is willing to deepen cooperation with Nigeria in fields such as infrastructure, agriculture and production capacity, enhance people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and support Nigeria's economic and social development so that the bilateral cooperation can become a model for China-Africa cooperation.

DT:China hosts its first International Import Expo from November 5 to 10, 2018 in Shanghai. Can you tell us what the expo seeks to achieve?

Dr. Zhou Pingjian:The China International Import Expo (CIIE) is world's first import expo held at the national level, an innovation in the history of global trade. The theme of the first CIIE is "New Era, Shared Future". Attending the event were 172 countries, regions and international organizations including Nigeria, more than 3,600 companies with a total exhibition area of 300,000 square meters, and more than 400,000 Chinese and foreign buyers who are there to explore business deals. Friends participating in this Expo enjoyed a most pleasant and rewarding experience.As President Xi Jinping has stressed on several occassions, openness brings progress and isolation leads to backwardness. China's door of opening up will not be closed and will only open even wider. The CIIE is an important decision made by China to pursue a new round of high-level opening-up, and is China's major initiative to still widen market access to the rest of the world. It demonstrates China's consistent position of supporting the multilateral trading system and promoting free trade. It is a concrete action by China to advance an open world economy and support economic globalization. It is our sincere commitment to open the Chinese market. The CIIE, an event to be held on an annual basis, will feature continued success in the years to come.

DT:What are the opportunities available to Nigeria?

Dr. Zhou Pingjian:China is a big market of over 1.3 billion people. In the coming 15 years, China's import of goods and services are expected to exceed $30 trillion and US$10 trillion respectively. The CIIE serves as another new and important platform for various products to access the Chinese market and the global market. I believe Nigerian friends will seize enormous business opportunities in this.

DT:Can you give us some products China intends to import from Nigeria?

Dr. Zhou Pingjian:Business deals can only be reached through mutual communication and discussion. The importers, exporters and consumers are in the best position to make judgments for which Nigerian products are demanded in the Chinese market. The governments however, should follow opening-up policy, advance investment and trade liberalization and facilitation, so as to expand space for mutually beneficial cooperation. China and Nigeria have signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and unimpeded trade is one of "The Five-Connectivity Program"of BRI. Trade facilitation is also one of the Eight Major Initiatives of China-Africa cooperation. China stands ready to strengthen consultation and cooperation with Nigeria to promote investment and trade liberalization and facilitation. We encourage Chinese importers to increase imports, particularly non-resource products from Nigeria.

DT:China is among Nigeria's largest trading partners, with trade value reaching over $7 billion in favour of China. Do you think Nigeria's participation will reduce its trade deficit with Beijing?

Dr. Zhou Pingjian:The CIIE is a new and reliable platform for various products to access the Chinese market and the global market. We hope more and more Nigerian products would enter China and beyond through this platform. China never deliberately pursues trade surplus.Chinese products are highly cost effective and the trade pattern is more of a natural outcome of the competitiveness of products and consumers' choices. The production capacity and investment cooperation tops the priority of China-Nigeria cooperation, and we believe that"Made in Nigeria with China"will grow bigger and stronger . We are glad to see"Made in China"products enjoy wide popularity in Nigeria. We would be delighted to see more "Made-in-Nigeria for China" products becoming popular in China as well. 

DT:How do you see Nigeria-China strategic partnership at the moment?

Dr. Zhou Pingjian:China and Nigeria, both major developing countries, regard each other as important strategic cooperation partners. Now China-Nigeria relations have reached a stage of growth unmatched in history. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1971 and strategic partnership in 2005 in particular between China and Nigeria, the all-round, wide-ranging and high-quality bilateral cooperation has been a pace-setter for China-Africa cooperation, bringing tangible benefits to our two peoples. President Buhari, as the first African head of state received by President Xi Jinping after FOCAC Johannesburg Summit, conducted a successful state visit to China in April, 2016. Guided by our two heads of state, China-Nigeria relations have embarked on the fast track of development. China highly appreciates the Nigerian Government for its position on the one China principle and adherence to its one China policy, and wishes to continue to show mutual understanding and support on issues concerning each other's core interests and major concerns.The Eight Major Initiatives meet the needs of Nigeria's Economic Recovery and Growth Plan well. China and Nigeria can synergize their development strategies more closely. To implement the outcomes of the FOCAC Beijing Summit promptly and efficiently and jointly advance the Belt and Road Initiative, will undoubtedly inject strong and new impetus to the efforts by China and Nigeria in pursuit of win-win cooperation and common development.

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