By Isaac Aregbesola
The Charge d’ Affaires of China Embassy in Nigeria, Mr Lin Jing, says China is not a Father Christmas, but rather, looking for a win-win partnership with Africa and Nigeria.
Jing made this declaration on Thursday in Abuja at a roundtable on the Review Dialogue on the just concluded 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
At the roundtable organised by the Centre for China Studies, Jing shed light on the cooperation between China and Africa, particularly Nigeria with regards to free interest loan from China to the continent.
“China has never been a ‘Father Christmas’as you can see from the theme of the just concluded FOCAC, which is “China and Africa: Toward An Even Stronger Community with a Shared Future through Win-Win Cooperation”.
“It is win-win cooperation and to join hands to build a closer and stronger community with a better future between China and Africa. So, our cooperation is mutually beneficial.
“Sometimes, China gives loan and takes later. Sometimes we give and ask in return,” he said.
Jing said that China-Africa relations were gaining global attention as their practical cooperation has brought about dramatic changes in the economic landscape across Africa and real benefits to both people.
While allaying the fear of another debt trap in Africa, he explained that China was ready to work closely with each African country to ensure that debt trap was avoided in Africa-China relations.
“Through consultation and dialogue, we have been able to solve problem in our cooperation including the debt payment; and we are ready to closely work with African countries,” he said.
The envoy further explained that China loans only accounts for 8.5 per cent of Nigeria’s foreign debt profile.
He said that China was committed to the development of FOCAC and to deepening China-Africa comprehensive strategy and cooperative partnership.
Jing said the success of FOCAC had fully demonstrated that the relationship between China and Africa has solid foundation, adding, “China Africa cooperation is strong and it is ongoing and never ending”.
Speaking, Amb. Usman Sarki, a former Deputy Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN, called for better understanding of the relationship between China and Nigeria.
Sarki said that there was need to focus on how to explore the benefits of the relationship, especially the outcome of FOCAC and maximise it for the development of the country.
“We should have structural and administrative framework for implementing decision taken at level of heads of state and government in FOCAC.
“It very important to have parliamentary input toward setting up of mechanism at the national level to handle trade investment and other matters related to China –Nigeria relations.
“Financing and access to technology should be very critical consideration by Nigeria without it we cannot develop and attain the level of development that we are all yearning to attain,” he said.
Sarki said that the line of investments coming from China within the framework of FOCAC must target key pillars of development of Nigeria mainly infrastructure, agriculture, food security and human development.
He stressed that focus should be, especially in the area of education, health, healthcare, poverty alleviation, among others, noting that emphasis should also be on women empowerment in Africa.
According to him, in China today, women are aggressively coming to the forefront in terms of development, entrepreneurship even commercial activities, that women are targeted across the continent,
“We also attract and develop strategies for accessing the amount that has been granted by China to Africa.
“In 2015 at the Johannesburg, China pledged 250 billion dollars; in the last three years, we do not know how much of it has been accessed.
“There must be very clear framework and mechanism for accessing these funds; determining how far they have been used toward the intended purposes by which they were created,” he said.