How I helped establish Nigeria-China relations, by Gowon
Former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd.), has explained how his regime helped establish bilateral relations between Nigeria and the People’s Republic of China.
Gowon spoke at an event to mark the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relationship organised by the Centre for China Studies and Chinese Embassy in Nigeria.
Speaking on the theme ‘Nigeria and China at 50: Reflections and the Way Forward’, Gowon said there were lots of preliminary contracts and engagements from 1966 that preceded the diplomatic relationship between the two countries on February 10, 1971.
Gowon, who was Head of State between 1966 and 1975, was the first Nigerian leader to visit China in 1974.
China is considered one of Nigeria’s closest allies and partners as well as an important trading and export partner with a trading volume of about $19 billion as of 2019.
The ex-military leader noted that the assistance Nigeria gave to China to see the latter’s admission into the United Nations as both members of the UN General Assembly and Security Council firmly established the bilateral relationship between both countries.
“That ultimately earned Nigeria a welcome state visit to Beijing in 1974. It included a rare visit to Chairman Mao at his home by the Nigerian delegation led by me, with my wife Victoria; the Foreign Minister, Dr Arikpo, the Permanent Secretary and Nigerian first Ambassador to China, Aminu Sanusi,” he said.
Charge d’Affairs of the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria, Mr. Zhao Yong, said over the past 50 years, the mutually beneficial China-Nigeria economic and trade relations enjoyed a robust development.
He said the trade volume between both countries was the largest in the continent.
“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.
“In 2019, the number of Nigerian students studying in China rose to 6,800, which stands first in all African countries. In the common fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Chinese government provided three batches of medical aid to and timely shared its experience on epidemic prevention and control with the Nigerian government. The local Chinese are rushing to help their Nigerian brothers and sisters, the total value of materials and funds donated by the local Chinese companies and nationals amounted to N3 billion,” Yong said.
As part of activities to commemorate the anniversary, both countries will host an online gala performance today.
Tagged ‘Share the Moment Together’, the event is organised by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of China and the Ministry of Information and Culture of Nigeria.
It will showcase the beauty of traditional Chinese dance and music, as well as the passion and vigour of Nigerian songs, dance and beats. The two cultures add radiance and beauty to each other and together voice a poem of friendship for diplomatic ties and for a better future.
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