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Ambassador to Nigeria Gu Xiaojie Gives Interview to Chinese Official Media Based in Nigeria on Premier Li Keqiang's Upcoming Visit to Nigeria

(From Chinese Embassy in Nigeria)

2014/05/03

At the invitation of President Goodluck Johathan of Nigeria, Premier Li Keqiang will pay an official visit to Nigeria from May 6 to 8 and attend the Plenary Session of the World Economic Forum on Africa. H.E. Gu Xiaojie, Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, recently gave an interview to the Chinese official media in Nigeria on this visit and the China-Nigeria relations. The Q&A session is as follows:

Q I: Premier Li Keqiang will pay an official visit to Nigeria. What special significance is this visit of under the current situation?

A: At the invitation of President Goodluck Jonathan of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will pay an official goodwill visit to Nigeria from May 6 to 8. Premier Li's visit marks the 50th anniversary of the then Premier Zhou Enlai's first visit to Africa. It is Premier Li's first foreign visit this year, the first visit to Africa by the Premier of the new Chinese government and a major diplomatic move of China's principal leadership in Africa following President Xi Jinping's first visit to Africa last year. It bears a particularly important significance in pushing forward the development of the China-Africa and China-Nigeria relations. Nigeria is an important country in Africa and the only West African country in Premier Li's visits. It is another important visit in the bilateral relations since President Jonathan visited China and Chairman Zhang Dejiang of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress visited Nigeria last year. It will bring China-Nigeria high-level exchanges to a new high.

Both our countries attach great importance to this visit. When I presented my credentials to President Jonathan recently, we had an in-depth exchange of views on Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Nigeria. He was very glad at the visit and expressed his warm welcome to Premier Li Keqiang. He recalled with joy the fruitful meeting with Premier Li in Beijing during his visit to China last year, and he is looking forward to the further exchange of views with Premier Li on ways to deepen and promote the implementation of the China-Nigeria strategic partnership in the coming period. I believe that Premier Li's visit will further consolidate China-Nigeria traditional friendship and deepen the existing bilateral friendly cooperation in all fields, and will also promote the development of a closer China-Nigeria strategic partnership, which will produce a sustained and positive influence on the future development of the bilateral relations.

As a country with the largest population and the largest GDP in Africa, Nigeria has significant influence on the African continent. During his visit to Nigeria, Premier Li, at the invitation of the Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Klaus Schwab, will also attend the Plenary Session of the 24th World Economic Forum on Africa to be held in Abuja, and deliver an important speech on enhancing China-Africa mutually beneficial cooperation, promoting Africa's inclusive growth, and realizing common development of China and Africa. It is believed that this visit will also vigorously push forward the development of the new-type China-Africa strategic partnership to a higher level.

Q II: could you please brief us on the fruits expected to be achieved during this visit?

A: This visit by Premier Li is his first visit to Africa as the head of the Chinese government, which also coincides with the 50th anniversary of Premier Zhou Enlai's first visit to Africa. Over the past 50 years, China-Africa friendly relations have become even firmer with time. Premier Li's visit will tread the path of friendship previously paved by the older generations of Chinese and African leaders, a path that will lead to a journey of inheritance, cooperation and unity.

During his visit to Nigeria, Premier Li will hold talks with President Jonathan. They will exchange in-depth views on bilateral relations and international and regional topics of common interest, will discuss new ways and measures to further expand the cooperation between the two countries in politics, economy and trade, people-to-people and cultural exchanges, international affairs and other fields, and will jointly witness the signing of a series of cooperation documents. The two sides will issue a joint statement on the important consensus reached during the visit. In a word, Premier Li's visit to Nigeria will be of great significance, rich contents and fruitful results.

Moreover, Premier Li will also meet with the state leaders of other African countries and exchange views on bilateral relations and international and regional topics with them during his attendance at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa in Abuja.

Q III: how do you comment on the current development of the China-Nigeria bilateral relations?

A: Nigeria is a major country in Africa with significant influence, ranking first in terms of the population and the GDP in Africa. China-Nigeria cooperation has a long history, and China-Nigeria relations are in the forefront of the China-Africa cooperation with its strategic and comprehensive characteristics. Since the establishment of the China-Nigeria diplomatic relationship, especially since the establishment of the China-Nigeria strategic partnership in 2005, bilateral relations have maintained sound development with fruitful achievements and sparkling highlights due to the care and promotion efforts of both leaders.

In the political field, Nigeria is the second country on the African continent that established strategic partnership with China. Both sides have maintained frequent exchanges of high-level visits and kept strengthening the political mutual trust. In July, 2013, during his visit to China, President Jonathan of Nigeria exchanged in-depth views with President Xi Jinping on strengthening China-Nigeria friendship and deepening mutually beneficial cooperation. They reached important consensus, drawing a beautiful blueprint for the development of China-Nigeria relations and enriched the substance of the strategic partnership between the two countries. In September of the same year, the first visit by Chairman Zhang Dejiang of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress was to Nigeria, with the objective of promoting the implementation of outcomes of the meeting between the two heads of the state, thereby injected new impetus into the China-Nigeria relations. In mid-May this year, Nigerian parliament leaders will visit China. It can be said that Premier Li's visit to Nigeria maintains the sound momentum of the exchange of China-Nigeria high-level visits.

In the economic and trade field, Nigeria is China's important economic partner in Africa. The practical cooperation between the two sides in trade, agriculture, energy, infrastructure, communications and other fields keeps going forward. Over the past few years, China-Nigeria trade volume has almost doubled, amounting to 13.59 billion USD in 2013. Nigeria is the first African country to include Chinese currency RMB into its foreign exchange reserves and the first destination country of China's export of whole communication satellites to Africa and the world at large. Nigeria is China's largest engineering contracting market in Africa, second largest export market and third largest trade partner. China is Nigeria's largest source of imports.

In the field of people-to-people and cultural exchanges, personnel exchanges between the two countries have become increasingly close and bilateral interactions more active in recent years. Nigeria is the first African country to set up cultural centers in China, and Chinese Cultural Center in Nigeria had also taken root since Chairman Zhang Dejing of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress visited Nigeria last year. Each year, there are numerous exchange visits between cultural and academic groups from the two countries. Till now, China has set up two Confucius Institutes and three Chinese language schools in Nigeria. Common Nigerian people, especially the young ones, are enthusiastic at learning Chinese language. In addition, there are about 100 Nigerian students sponsored by the Chinese Government Scholarship as well as over 400 self-supporting Nigerian students coming to study in China every year.

Besides, China and Nigeria enjoy extensive cooperation in international and regional affairs. Nigeria is a major country in Africa and plays an important and positive role in African affairs, and the affairs of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in particular. From 2014 to 2015, Nigeria is the nonpermanent member of the UN Security Council. China and Nigeria have always maintained communications and coordination on major international and regional issues, and have been committed to jointly safeguarding the interests of the developing countries, and bilateral cooperation has been fruitful.

Q IV: how do you look ahead to the future of the China-Nigeria relations?

A: China is the largest developing country in the world and is currently at the crucial stage of comprehensively deepening reforms and accelerating the transformation of the economic development pattern. China is vigorously advancing the industrialization, informatization, urbanization and agricultural modernization to strive to realize the "Chinese Dream" of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Nigeria has the largest population and the largest GDP in Africa, and enjoys sufficient demographic dividends. The current government is working hard to push forward the economic transformation and expecting that by 2020 Nigeria will be one of the top 20 economic powers in the world economy. In the course of realizing our own goals for development, we need to join hands for cooperation and win-win results.

Nigeria possesses abundant mineral, population and land resources. The large population has created huge market potential. Meanwhile, China owns funds, technologies and experience that Nigeria needs for its economic development. The two countries enjoy broad cooperative prospects in many fields such as energy, infrastructure, agriculture, aviation and communication.

We will take the important opportunity of Premier Li's visit to Nigeria this time to deepen political mutual trust between the two countries, to expand the areas of bilateral cooperation, to develop new cooperation highlights, to promote mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Nigeria, to consolidate traditional friendship between the two peoples and to achieve the common development of China and Nigeria.

Next year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the strategic partnership between China and Nigeria. The two sides will take this as an opportunity to comprehensively review and summarize the development process of the strategic partnership over the past 10 years, to blaze new trails in a pioneering spirit, and to build the new look and new start for friendly cooperation between the two countries. I am full of confidence in the prospect of China-Nigeria relations, and willing to make my own efforts in this regard.

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