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Belt and Road's journey to the west

2017128日,非洲研究院尼日利亚籍研究员Ehizuelen Michael Mitchell Omoruyi在中国日报网发表文章:Belt and Road's journey to the west.

 

In Nigeria, initiative promises new opportunities for cooperation with China on the other side of the African continent, too

The Chinese people, under President Xi Jinping's leadership, no longer aspire to rebuild the Great Wall. Instead, they are devoted to rebuilding the Silk Road, with all the common consultation, common construction and shared benefits that China's Belt and Road Initiative promises.

This is not the first move to revive the ancient trade route. There have been attempts by the European Union, the United States, Russia, and even India, to reconstruct the ancient Silk Road that linked Asia and Europe in particular. What makes China's attempt different is the commitment of President Xi, as well as the numerous agreements - such as the 130 transportation pacts - it has already signed with partner countries along the route. The initiative will inject trillions of dollars into the international transportation infrastructure - mainly railways and roads stretching across Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

 

Belt and Road's journey to the west

The Belt and Road Initiative is designed to boost commerce and has won extensive endorsement from the international community. Xi said at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May that the only way for China to realize the development promised by the Belt and Road Initiative is to have an environment of global stability.

Addressing other world leaders at the summit in Beijing, Xi said it was necessary to coordinate policies with the development goals of institutions including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the African Union and the European Union. He pledged $124 billion at the summit for the new Silk Road.

Essentially, China sees itself as having taken the mantle of globalization from the US and therefore the Belt and Road Initiative announces China as its preeminent global promoter - with Chinese characteristics.

The initiative aims to create the world's largest platform for promoting policy coordination, connectivity of facilities, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds

The initiative has made good progress and won a warm response and active participation. More than 100 countries and international organizations have joined, among which more than 40 have signed cooperation agreements with China, reaching a broad international consensus.

 

Belt and Road's journey to the west

Africa has a natural and historical connection with the initiative. In the 15th century, Chinese Admiral Zheng He led a fleet of 300 ships to Africa, that sowed the seeds of a friendship in the hearts of both Chinese and African people which has lasted since then. With an area of more than 30 million square kilometers, a population of 1.1 billion (of which youth accounts for more than 50 percent), 800 million hectares of arable land and countless natural resources, Africa is unarguably an important pillar of the world economy. Most African countries are endeavoring to industrialize and diversify their economies, while China, after nearly 40 years of reform and openingup, has accumulated rich experience in industrialization and modernization. The combination of Chinese capital, technology, market, enterprises, talents, and development experience and African resources, huge demographic dividend and market potential presents the opportunity for another miracle of development.

Nigeria is strategically located and is in several ways a political anomaly in Africa. It is a regional and continental self-determined powerhouse that has, since independence, adopted and maintained a policy of political neutrality in foreign relations. Its influence and a strong belief in itself as a formidable (real or latent) global actor have inspired Nigeria's active involvement in the continent of Africa via its foreign policy on significant global matters. Nigeria's significance in Africa is arguably necessary for any actors looking to make a strategic power play, economic or otherwise, on the continent. It is a resource-endowed nation with a young, growing, diverse population. It is heavily populated and growing rapidly; Nigeria's population is currently the seventh-largest globally, projected to be 203 million by 2025 and 279 million by 2050, making up more than 20 percent of the total African population. Nigeria's favorable demographic advantage also makes it a consumer country.

As the leading nation of West Africa and one of the most powerful nations on the continent, Nigeria is highly respected throughout the world, especially in China. China and Nigeria are strategic partners sharing similar cultures and historical backgrounds. They celebrate their nationhood on the same day and have highly complementary economies. Their friendship has borne rich fruits covering almost all fields in recent years but, as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during his visit to Abuja in January 2017, Compared with the size, population and market of China and Nigeria, the two countries' cooperation still has a large potential to be deepened. He went on to say, In the past, China supported African nations to attain political independence, but this time the Chinese people are willing to support African nations in gaining economic independence; the Belt and Road can act as a platform to attain the economic independence. Nigeria should position itself to benefit from this opportunity.

After many years of excessive dependence on oil, the other industries of Nigeria are undergrown, and the large reserve of human resources is underused. Nigeria's government is eager and working hard to diversify its economy as well as to train more talent who will be able to shoulder responsibility in the new era. Meanwhile, China, through platforms like the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the Belt and Road Initiative and many other mechanisms, shows strong willingness to share its experience and encourage the development of other nations. With the late-comer advantage, Nigeria can introduce the most advanced management systems, cutting-edge technology and experienced talent in all fields, therefore circumventing the detours China once took. Such late-comer advantage, together with better governance, reform, an opening-up policy and the dedication of several generations, has contributed to China's development miracle. If China can attain such miracle, then Nigeria can as well.

Over the last decade, China has become a major economic partner of Nigeria. In Africa, it is China's number one engineering market, number two export market, number three trading partner and major investment destination. China has been embraced by Nigeria and has continued to expand its trade relations in the country. Trade between China and Nigeria has increased from $2 billion in 2005 to $6.5 billion in the first five months of 2017, an increase of 33 percent over the same period in 2016. This represented 7.6 percent of the total trade volume between China and Africa and 36.4 percent of total trade volume between China and the Economic Community of West African States. China's investment in Nigeria grew by 27 percent in 2016. It has already invested or financed a total of over $22 billion worth of projects in Nigeria. Another $23 billion of projects are ongoing. All these investments have helped China's total investment in Nigeria climb to $15 billion. The nation is affectionately referred to as Africa's China among global investors.

Along with investment, Chinese technology, management and experienced workers also flood into Nigeria, greatly boosting the diversification and development of the Nigerian economy. The benefits from Chinese investment can be seen everywhere. What impressed me most when I traveled there recently was the willingness and enthusiasm of local people to welcome Chinese investment. They told me that Chinese investment had become the pillar of the local economy and made their hometown a better place.

Nigeria has all the required qualities to become another world manufacturer, and China has the willingness and ability to support it in realizing its potential. China and Nigeria need to find a platform and mechanism to effectively conduct their cooperation, and this is the very role the Belt and Road Initiative is playing.

Considering the economy, population and market of the Belt and Road participating countries, the initiative will have a great impact on the world economy in coming years. For example, the building of the Lekki Free Trade Zone will be significant in reducing the country's reliance on imports. The Lekki port, expected to be completed in 2018, may function as a commerce hub extending the Belt and Road farther to the west on the African continent. The Chinese are looking forward to working with their Nigerian friends for more active participation in the initiative, laying a more solid foundation and fostering greater connectivity for world economic growth.

  

全文请见:http://africa.chinadaily.com.cn/weekly/2017-12/08/content_35257729.htm?bsh_bid=1894547367  

作者:Michael

发表时间:2017-12-11

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