By H.E. Cui Jianchun, Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria
From October 17 to 18, the third Belt and Road Forum (BRF) for International Cooperation was held in Beijing, China, featuring the theme“High-quality Belt and Road Cooperation: Together for Common Development and Prosperity”.
Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the opening ceremony of the forum and delivered a keynote speech. President Xi noted that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) injects new impetus into the global economy, creates new opportunities for global development, and builds a new platform for international economic cooperation. Belt and Road cooperation has extended from the Eurasian continent to Africa and Latin America, with more than 150 countries and over 30 international organizations signing Belt and Road cooperation documents. We have held two sessions of the BRF before, and have established over 20 specialized multilateral cooperation platforms under the BRI.
Furthermore, President Xi announced 8 major steps China will take to support joint pursuit of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation as follows: 1) building a multidimensional Belt and Road connectivity network. 2) supporting an open world economy. 3) carrying out practical cooperation. 4) promoting green development. 5) advancing scientific and technological innovation. 6) supporting people-to-people exchanges. 7) promoting integrity-based Belt and Road cooperation. 8) strengthening institutional building for international Belt and Road cooperation.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the BRI proposed by President Xi. Over the past decade, thanks to the combined efforts of all parties, cooperation under the BRI framework has expanded beyond the borders of China to become an international effort. It has evolved from ideas into actions, from a vision into reality, and from a general framework into concrete projects. Under the BRI, more than 3,000 cooperation projects were constructed, nearly US$1 trillion in investments were generated and 40 million people were lifted out of poverty. The Belt and Road cooperation has made historic achievements and has benefited more than 150 countries, opening up a road of cooperation, opportunity and prosperity leading to common development. The BRI has become the most popular international public good and the largest international cooperation platform in the world today.
As an important event to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the BRI, the third BRF constitutes another important milestone in the process of jointly building the Belt and Road. The attendance of 151 countries, 41 international organizations and more than 10,000 delegates at the forum shows the appeal and global influence of the China-proposed initiative. And the Forum is considered to be a “complete success” by all sides, with a total of 458 outcomes achieved, far more than the second BRF.
Nigeria is always a strong partner of BRI. From October 15 to 20, Vice President Sen. Kashim Shettima, attended the third BRF representing President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and his counterpart, Chinese Vice President Han Zheng.
During his meeting with President Xi, President Xi pointed out that there have been many highlights in the Belt and Road cooperation between China and Nigeria. Many cooperation projects including railways, ports, power stations and communications backbone networks have been completed in succession, and remarkable achievements have been made in the development of free trade areas. China is ready to continue working with Nigeria to push for more tangible outcomes of China-Nigeria and China-Africa Belt and Road cooperation and help Nigeria and Africa realize industrialization and agricultural modernization. China stands ready to enhance personnel exchanges at all levels with Nigeria to advance high-quality practical cooperation.
Vice President Shettima congratulated China on successfully hosting the third BRF. He noted that Nigeria and China are good friends who have shared weal and woe and supported each other in times of difficulties. China has always treated Nigeria and other African countries with respect and as equals; it has never bossed them around, and has done its best to support the African people in seeking independence and development. He thanked China for proposing a series of important global cooperation initiatives for developing countries, providing valuable assistance for Nigeria’s development,and boosting the industrialization process of Nigeria and Africa at large. He stressed that Nigeria is ready to further deepen Belt and Road cooperation with China and lift Nigeria-China relations to a new level.
Vice President Shettima also addressed the High-Level Forum on Digital Economy of the forum, adding that Nigeria is keen on using the instrumentality of the existing robust Nigeria-China bilateral relations to maximally key into projects under the platform of the Digital Silk Road for the improvement of Nigerian digital space.
During his stay in Beijing, Vice President Shettima has witnessed the signing of MOU between the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure and three Chinese partners for new projects valued at $2 billion, as well as letters of intent between the Chinese and Nigerian partners for new projects and investments worth $4 billion. Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Works also signed an MoU with China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd for the construction of the Lekki Blue Seaport contract at the Lekki Free Trade Zone in Lagos.
It goes without saying that the achievements of Vice President Shettima’s visit to China are remarkable.
Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1971 and strategic partnership in 2005, the all-round, wide-range and high-quality bilateral cooperation between China and Nigeria has been a pace-setter for China-Africa cooperation. In 2018, Nigeria signed the Belt and Road cooperation agreement with China. From then on, with the joint efforts of both sides, Nigeria has become China’s biggest contractor market, second largest trading partner and major investment destination in Africa. Major projects such as Lekki Deep Sea Port, Zungeru Hydroelectric project, Lagos-Ibadan train route, Abuja-Kaduna rail line, Abuja-Keffi-Lafia-Makurdi road dualisation, as well as several airport terminals, undertaken by Chinese enterprises, have been completed or progressing smoothly.
It has been more than two and a half years since I was appointed as Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria in March 2021. This is a country beloved by me, with splendid ancient culture, peace-loving and hardworking people, and immeasurable development potentials. To promote all-round cooperation between China and Nigeria, I have put forward 5GIST Nigeria-China GDP(Growth, Development, Progress)Strategy, “Share Chinese Harmony, Perform Nigeria-China Symphony” Initiative and a new model of cooperation named PEG(Party-Enterprise-Government). They were all warmly welcomed by Nigerian friends at various levels.
President Xi said, humankind is a community with a shared future. As President Tinubu proposed “Renewed Hope” Initiative, I am willing to build the “Renewed Tie: Thought/Investment/Endeavor” between our two governments, enterprises and people, to sow “Renewed Seed: Security/ Education/Economy/Dedication”, and to fulfill the “Renewed GDP: Growth/Development/Progress”, so as to further promote our cooperation. It is my strong belief that, building upon the great success of Vice President Shettima’s visit to China and by working together more closely, Nigeria and China would build an even stronger community with a shared future, and will bring more tangible benefits to the two great peoples.