Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP through Getty Pictures
Since establishing diplomatic relations on 10 February 1971, Nigeria’s relationship with China has developed into some of the essential bilateral relationships maintained by both nation.
Aside from the trade of excessive stage visits, Chinese language firms and cash have discovered their approach into Nigeria, Africa’s largest financial system. They’re concerned in quite a lot of main tasks in Nigeria.
As at 31 March 2020, Chinese language loans to Nigeria stood at US$3.121 billion, which is 11.28% of the nation’s exterior debt of US$27.67 billion. The rising commerce and presence of Chinese language finance in Nigeria has additionally led to altering narratives about elevated migration on each side.
Through the years, Nigeria’s relationship with China has broadened and deepened with China’s rising energy and curiosity in securing its regional pursuits (significantly throughout the South China Sea), and taking its place as a significant international actor. Though Nigeria has largely stayed away from China’s pretty assertive regional posture, it’s affirmation of a dedication to the ‘One-China Coverage’ has been essential to China. Nigeria demonstrated this by the pressured relocation of Taiwan commerce workplace from Abuja to Lagos in 2017.
The governments of each Nigeria and China typically describe their relationship as a “win win” partnership – a time period China typically makes use of to explain its relationships with different African international locations.
Throughout former Chinese language President Hu Jintao’s go to to Nigeria in 2006, his host after which Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, remarked:
From our evaluation, this twenty-first century is the century for China to guide the world. And if you find yourself main the world, we need to be shut behind you. When you’ll the moon, we don’t need to be left behind.
Bitter candy combination
However 50 years of Nigeria-China relations has been a bitter-sweet combination. At independence, Nigeria’s pro-British and pro-West international coverage had no devoted house or help for communist China.
Throughout the Nigeria-Biafra conflict, the Nigerian authorities acquired arms help the from USSR – however not China. It has been reported that China supported Biafra by way of small arms and ammunition through Tanzania.
After the conflict, the Nigerian authorities applied the 3Rs – reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation. It additionally visited international locations within the West and East. It was inside this context that Nigeria, together with different African international locations, supported the 1971 decision to just accept China as a full-fledged member of the UN.
An financial exhibition adopted in 1972 and Yakubu Gowon, Nigeria’s chief, visited Beijing in 1974. But it surely was not till the early Nineteen Nineties that China assumed an essential function in Nigeria.
The backlash from the West over the annulment of the June 1993 presidential election pressured Nigeria to look extra in direction of China.
Thus, China turned an essential component for Nigeria’s response to Western sanctions and different types of pressures, and methods to power a most popular political final result. China’s non-interference coverage within the home affairs of different international locations fitted nicely into Sani Abacha’s final purpose of changing into a civilian president. The interval additionally coincided with the early beginnings of Beijing’s personal “going international” coverage that noticed it unleash overseas its financial affect and multinational firms.
Underneath Abacha, an settlement was signed in 1995 with the China Civil Engineering Building Company to take up tasks -although some studies hint the corporate’s entrance into the Nigerian market to 1981. What is obvious is that Nigeria is the corporate’s first abroad market ; and presently CCECC works in 29 of Nigeria’s 36 states.
Over the past 50 years, the Sino-Nigerian relationship has developed clear patterns. Roughly, the primary 20 years could also be described as a political section. The following decade was a blended period of political and financial options whereas the final 20 years or so present an intensification of China’s financial presence in Nigeria. Clearly, the connection has grow to be extra financial as China developed from a political energy to a worldwide financial big.
Nevertheless, after a half century of official relationship, the time has grow to be ripe for a overview of the steadiness sheet.
The “win-win” smiles
China is without doubt one of the most essential lenders of growth finance to Nigeria. Chinese language companies and finance play a distinguished function in Nigeria’s infrastructure growth. That is notably within the development of railway traces and street (re)development throughout the nation. Some examples are the $874 million, 187km Abuja-Kaduna rail; the $1.2 billion, 312km Lagos-Ibadan expressway; the $1.1 billion Kano-Kaduna railway traces and the $600 million airport terminals in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano.
Nigeria can be certainly one of Africa’s high locations for Chinese language international direct funding (FDI). Though correct figures are tough to establish, it’s estimated that about 5% of Chinese language FDI shares in Africa and 4.6% of FDI influx in 2019 goes to Nigeria.
Information on commerce between the 2 nations for the primary 30 years of their relationship isn’t obtainable. Nonetheless, extra dependable information has been obtainable since 2003. Since then commerce between the 2 nations has elevated from US$1.86 billion to an estimated US$20 billion in 2019. Commerce flows are in China’s favour, with China operating a commerce surplus of about US$17.5 billion for the years 2015 to 2018. Nigeria sells crude oil to China and, in flip, buys manufactured items.
China additionally contributes to the event of Nigeria’s human capital. Many Nigerian college students now examine in Chinese language colleges – with a number of on scholarship. Chinese language firms are additionally constructing schooling and coaching amenities in Nigeria.
The underbellies of win-win
The connection isn’t with out its issues. Apart from racism in opposition to Nigerians and different black folks in China, there are 4 different issues.
First is the damaging influence of Chinese language imports on Nigerian industries, of which the most important casualty has been textiles.
For instance, in Kano – which is taken into account to be one of many principal textiles cities in northern Nigeria, an estimated 28,000 Nigerians misplaced their jobs to Chinese language imports as at 2015.
Nigeria’s shoe business has additionally taken a giant hit.
The second downside pertains to the dangerous remedy of Nigerian employees by their Chinese language employers. There have been many situations of maltreatment of those employees. This raises questions in regards to the potential of Nigerian authorities to develop – or implement – acceptable labour legal guidelines and conduct common inspection of labor locations.
Third is the problem of unsubstantiated claims about Chinese language firms in Nigeria. instance is the declare that China makes use of its prisoners in development tasks in Nigeria.
The fourth downside pertains to Chinese language loans to Nigeria, which regularly generate issues amongst residents. These vary from people who imagine they’re unsustainable to those who declare that the agreements enable China to take over Nigerian belongings. These persist due to the secrecy surrounding the loans.
Getting ready for the following 25-50 years
Nigeria now wants to organize for the following 25 to 50 years.
China can proceed to play an essential function in Nigeria’s growth. Nevertheless, Nigeria should urgently tackle the damaging facet of the connection.
First, Nigeria’s regulatory establishments, together with the courts, requirements setting our bodies, ministries and businesses, should apply the legal guidelines of the nation with out concern or favour.
China has stated it won’t tolerate Chinese language firms disregarding Nigeria’s labour legal guidelines. However, it’s as much as the native regulatory establishments to say the supremacy of the Nigerian legislation.
Secondly, Chinese language textile companies should be inspired to create employment.
Lastly, people-to-people relationship should even be inspired and strengthened.
Abdul-Gafar Tobi Oshodi has beforehand acquired analysis funding or journey help from organisations just like the KU Leuven, Analysis Basis Flanders (FWO), Social Science Analysis Council (SSRC), College of Edinburgh, Lagos State College, Lagos State Authorities, Chatham Home (i.e. Robert Bosch Stiftung), Centre for Inhabitants and Environmental Growth (CPED), Tertiary Training Belief Fund (TETfund), Inhabitants Media Heart (PMC), Financial Neighborhood for West African States (ECOWAS), Assume Tank Initiative, and the Carnegie Company of New York. He’s presently an American Council of Discovered Societies’ African Humanities Program (ACLS-AHP) postdoctoral fellow, conducting analysis for a e-book entitled ‘Imageries of Mao Zedong's China in Ghanaian newspapers, 1957-1976.’
Ufo Okeke Uzodike is affiliated with African Heritage Establishment (AfriHeritage). The institute is a not-for-profit, non-partisan and impartial suppose tank dedicated to financial, social and peace analysis, capability constructing, and networking. AfriHeritage’s historical past dates again to 2001 when operations commenced (nationally and throughout Africa) underneath the title “African Institute for Utilized Economics'' (AIAE). Its title was modified in 2012 to African Heritage Establishment as a way to broaden its focus past financial points. Its imaginative and prescient is for a renascent Africa that’s democratic, affluent and a frontline participant within the international financial system; and its Mission dedicated its administration to work for constructive social change by means of sustained advocacy to advertise clear and efficient administration and governance of the Nigerian and African economies.