By Temitope Ponle
Nigeria has formally joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative BRI), the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian, has said.
Zhou said this at a Spring Festival reception for the media in Abuja on Thursday.
The Belt and Road Initiative has been described as an ambitious development programme, through which China aims to boost trade and promote economic growth across Asia and beyond.
The initiative, introduced by the Chinese Government in 2013, seeks to connect more than 65 countries globally, through infrastructure, with participation of more than 70 countries from Asia, Africa and Europe.
“The year of 2019, Nigeria formally joins the big family of the BRI.
“China will actively promote international cooperation through the BRI.
“In doing so, we hope to achieve infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity and thus build a new platform for international cooperation to create new drivers of shared development,” the envoy said.
He said the second Belt and Road for International Cooperation would be held in Beijing in April to implement the outcomes of 2018 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Summit.
He said the forum holding in April would be an opportunity to implement the eight major initiatives identified by President Xi Jinping as the focus of China-Africa cooperation in the next three years and beyond.
“Guided by the principle of consultation and collaboration for shared benefits, China-Nigeria cooperation can become a model for China-Africa cooperation,” he said.
He said 2019 marked the 48th anniversary of diplomatic relations between both countries and the 70th anniversary of the founding of China.
He pledged his government’s readiness to work with Nigeria to “elevate our strategic partnership to a new level and bring greater benefits to our two countries”.
Zhou said the forthcoming Spring Festival was the start of the Lunar New Year in China and an occasion for family reunion.
Chinese New Year, referred to as the Spring Festival, celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar.
The first day of the Lunar New Year will be on Feb. 5, initiating the Year of the pig. (NAN)