Ambassador Zhou Pingjian: China, Nigeria in the New Era
On October 29, 2019, Nigerian leading newspaper Thisday and Business Day published an article written by Ambassador of China to Nigeria Dr. Zhou Pingjian. The full text goes as follows:
The First of October this year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
What path did China take? Where is China going? What are China’s goals in shaping the world? How will a developing China interact with the rest of the world?
In respond to the above-mentioned questions and aiming to give the international community a better understanding of China’s development, the State Council Information Office of China recently published a white paper entitled “China and the World in the New Era”. The white paper systematically introduces China’s achievements, development path and directions over the past 70 years and deeply elaborated on China’s relations with the world.
Over the past 7 decades, China has achieved great success. From 1952 to 2018, China’s industrial added value increased with an average annual growth rate of 11 percent. China’s GDP increased with an average annual growth rate of 8.1 percent, and per capita GDP increased by 70 times at constant prices. China’s life expectancy has increased from 35 years in 1949 to 77 years in 2018, higher than the world’s average of 72 years. The living conditions of the Chinese people have been greatly improved. China’s rural population living under the current poverty line decreased from 770 million in 1978 to 16.6 million in 2018. China has established a preliminary social security system covering the largest population in the world. China was one of the poorest and most backward countries in 1949, now it is the second largest economy in the world.
How has China scored remarkable accomplishments?
Firstly, the right path of development. The choice of path is critical to the successful development of a country. China has found and will continue on the right path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, which is the ultimate reason for China’s success over the past 70 years. As a vast country with a nearly 1.4 billion population, China has no experience of modernization to borrow from in history. It has to blaze its own path.
Secondly, the steadfast leadership. The Communist Party of China (CPC) is China’s core leadership, ruling the country for long and supported by the people. China’s success over the past 70 years boils down to the CPC’s leadership. Due to China’s vast territory and complicated national conditions, the governance of China is uniquely difficult. Without centralized, unified and firm leadership, China would have tended towards division and disintegration and caused widespread chaos beyond its own borders.
Thirdly, the industrious people. A large country with a nearly 1.4 billion population, China cannot achieve prosperity by asking for assistance and waiting. The only option is hard work. China relied on the solid and unremitting efforts of generations of Chinese people, relied on fulfilling its own responsibility in good times and in adversity, without exporting or shifting problems elsewhere, and without seeking development by trading under coercion or exploiting other countries.
Over the past 70 years, China has defused many risks and overcome many challenges, and marched forward step after step. The Chinese nation has risen and become prosperous, China’s development path will look on brighter and brighter prospects as time moves on. China has entered a new era of development, which also constitutes even greater opportunity for Nigeria and the world.
China’s All-round opening up creates more opportunities. China pursues a mutually beneficial strategy of opening up and strives to open up wider. It is not only “the world’s factory”, but also a global market. With a population of nearly 1.4 billion and a middle-income group of 400 million, China has the largest market in the world. Its huge consumer demand provides an enormous market for countries all over the world. In the coming 15 years, China’s imports of goods and services are expected to exceed US$30 trillion and US$10 trillion. Owing to the initiative of Chinese President Xi Jinping, the China International Import Expo (CIIE) was launched in Shanghai in 2018, aiming at giving firm support to trade liberalization and economic globalization and actively opening the Chinese market to the world. The second session of CIIE will be held from 5th to 10th November in Shanghai. We welcome more and more Nigerian companies could utilize this channel to explore the Chinese market.
China-initiated cooperative mechanisms boost dynamic growth. China has benefited from the international community for its development, and it has never forgotten to provide it with more and better public goods in return. The most convincing mechanism is the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which is an economic cooperation initiative proposed in 2013 by President Xi and is aiming at exploring new driving force for the world economy and building a new platform for world economic cooperation. The BRI originated in China, but the opportunities and achievements belong to the whole world. We are pleased to see that in Africa, the African Union and 39 African countries have already signed documents on BRI cooperation with China. We stand ready to strengthen comprehensive cooperation with the African countries in jointly building the Belt and Road to share the win-win outcomes.
China’s development provides experience and reference. There is no such thing as one single path or model that is universally applicable. Whether the path of a country is the right one depends on whether this path can solve the historic and practical problems facing the country, whether it can improve people’s wellbeing, and whether it can win the recognition and support of the people. China respects the different paths chosen by other countries. It does not “import” foreign models, nor “export” the Chinese model, and will never require other countries to replicate its practices. We will continue to contribute wisdom and strength to global issues including poverty alleviation and reduction, disease prevention and control, and refugee relief, letting the sunlight of common development dispel the shadow of poverty and backwardness and illuminate a future of shared prosperity.
The world is undergoing a level of profound change that has not been seen in a hundred years. The rise of China, Nigeria and other emerging market and developing countries is fundamentally altering the international structures of power. Under this great transformation, China and Africa have a common fate. China is the largest developing country in the world. Nigeria is the largest developing country in Africa. And Africa is the continent with the largest number of developing countries. Both Nigeria and China are new forces in this great transformation, who bear similar historical experiences, development tasks and political aspirations, and have formed a very close community with a shared future.
Only through mutually beneficial cooperation and common development can we make significant and sustainable achievements that are beneficial to all. Some countries are getting richer while others are becoming poorer, which makes it impossible to maintain lasting peace and prosperity around the world.
Just as President Muhammadu Buhari incisively points out in his statement delivered at the general debate of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York last month, “A developed Africa will not be antagonistic to industrialized countries but will become friends and partners in prosperity, security and development. A prosperous Africa will mean greater prosperity for the rest of the world. A poor Africa will be a drag on the rest of the world”.
China is ready to join hands with Nigeria, through pursuing high-quality BRI cooperation and through the implementation the outcomes of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Beijing Summit, to build up a prosperous world and bring greater benefits to our peoples and the world.