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Ambassador: China-Nigeria co-op mutually beneficial


China and Africa need each other, said Deng Boqing, the Chinese ambassador to Nigeria, during a July 16 interview with China.org.cn.

"Both sides have been firmly supporting each other in issues concerning their core interests, as well as major international and regional issues," Deng said. That support was evident, Deng said, during Chinese President Xi Jinping's inaugural visit to Africa from March 24 to 30, he stressed that China and Africa are connected by a common fate.

According to Deng, Chinese-Nigerian relations are reflective of Chinese-African as a whole.

"Nigeria is a representative of African countries," Deng said. "It's typical in that it's the most populous country in Africa, it's the second-largest economy in Africa, and it's also the Africa's largest crude oil producer, with the largest reserve in natural gas among African countries."

There have been, Deng said, many instances of Chinese-Nigerian cooperation since the two countries opened diplomatic relations in 1971. He pointed to 2005, the year when Chinese-Nigerian relations were upgraded to a strategic partnership, as one such success.

Deng said that recent high-level diplomatic exchanges have only enhanced the growing trust between China and Nigeria. Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan's recent visit to China had been especially fruitful, Deng said. "Pragmatic bilateral cooperation [must] be expanded, and the development of China-ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) and China-Africa relations [must] be further promoted."Deng said. (Deng is also China's Ambassador to the ECOWAS.)

Financial cooperation between China and Nigeria has grown exponentially in recent years. The trade turnover has almost doubled in the past five years. The Central Bank of Nigeria was the first in Africa to include Chinese currency (RMB) in its foreign exchange reserves. Nigeria is now China's third-largest African trade partner and its second-largest export market on the continent.

Still, Deng said, many have expressed concerns over the "rapid expansion" of Chinese-Nigerian trade, especially since Chinese exports to Nigeria account for $9.3 billion of the $10.6 billion total trade volume between the two countries. Deng suggested that the best way to cut that deficit would be to boost the oil trade between the two countries.

"The countries that have no trade deficit with Nigeria are mostly heavy buyers of Nigeria oil, like the U.S. and India. Though the U.S. now reduced its imports of oil from Nigeria, its imports of oil from Nigeria account for over one-fifth of the total amount of Nigeria's oil exports. Compared with those countries, China has huge potential to increase its oil trade with Nigeria."

But though Deng said he encourages corporations to take advantage of the business opportunities available in Africa, he is also adamant that any such entrepreneurs research the political, economic and cultural situations in any specific African city and country of interest.

Deng also addressed the use of terms like "neo-colonialism" by some Western media outlets to describe China's relationship with Africa. "Such an argument," Deng said," is untenable. In an era of globalization, the trade between the countries is complementary. The multinational corporations are all taking advantage of lower labor costs, material costs and preferential policies...Moreover, the price of raw materials is much higher than [it was in] the old days."

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