China backs Nigeria for UN Security Council seat
The world's most populous nation believes that Nigeria, with its vast geographical spread and record of good neighbourliness in Africa, is eminently qualified for the seat.
Also eyeing the possible African slot are South Africa and Egypt.
The Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Wang Yonqiu, at a press conference in Abuja yesterday said that his country fully supported current calls for reforms in the world body, adding that Africa's bid must also be accommodated.
Germany, Japan, Brazil and India in September launched a joint effort for the permanent seat. Former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, on Tuesday canvassed more vigour in Nigeria's bid for the slot, given the seriousness of the bids from South Africa and Egypt.
Yonqiu disclosed that the Chinese equivalent of the Senate President, Mr. Wu Bangguo and his wife would pay a three-day visit to Nigeria.
Bangguo is the chairman of China's ruling party, the National Peoples Congress. By virtue of the office, he is the country's Number Two man.
Yonqiu also disclosed that there had been an improvement in economic ties between Nigeria and his country, with trade rising from $578.43 million to $1.858 billion.
The Security Council passes resolutions that are binding on the world body's 191-member states and has had five permanent members with veto power since the UN was established in the wake of World War II.
The permanent members are Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. Ten other nations are elected into the Security Council as non-permanent members for two-year rotation terms.
Yonqiu said: "As an important country, Nigeria, in pursuit of the policy of good neighbourliness and friendship, takes an active part in regional and international affairs and stability of the African continent, especially the West African sub-region and promoting the process of regional economic co-operation and integration.
The Chinese ambassador spoke further: "China attaches importance to the role played by Nigeria in regional and international affairs. China supports greater representations of the African countries in the Security Council. It is believed that the inadequacy of representation from the African countries will be properly redressed after extensive discussions and consultations."
Speaking on the Nigeria-China relations since the advent of democratic dispensation in 1999, the envoy stated: "Ever since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Nigeria on February 10, 1971, our bilateral relations have always been cordial despite the dramatic changes that have taken place both internationally and domestically in our two countries. We have always firmly supported and closely collaborated with each other in nation building and in international affairs and the friendly co-operation between us in political, economic, cultural and other fields has been strengthened continuously. The visit of the chairman of the standing committee of the National Peoples Congress of the Peoples Republic of China will further boost this diplomatic ties."
Before arriving in Nigeria, the number two citizen of China would have visited Kenya, Zimbabwe and Zambia. The envoy confirmed that the visiting Chinese official would pay courtesy calls on President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar. President Obasanjo visited China in August 2001 and in April 2002, Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited Nigeria for the first time. Vice President Abubakar, Senate President Adolphus Wabara have all visited China.
The Chinese envoy spoke further: "Recent years, the trade and economic co-operation between China and Nigeria has made commendable progress. Nigeria has become one of China's biggest economic and trade partners in Africa. The bilateral trade volume has increased rapidly and continuously. According to the Chinese statistics, the trade figure in 2002 was $1.168 billion and it reached $1.858 billion in 2003.
He continued: "The Chinese side attaches great importance to the current trade imbalance with Nigeria and is taking actions to narrow the gap by, among other things, the import of Nigerian crude oil and solid minerals and greater market access for Nigerian products. We appreciate President Obasanjo's decision to sell China 50,000 barrels per day (BPD) crude oil and hope that this quota will increase. China has also signed contract with Nigeria on the exploration of two oil blocks, of which we are foreseeing production in 2005. There are more and more competitive Chinese companies in Nigeria to seek opportunities of investment, many of them are in the field of energy, power, telecommunications, construction, and infrastructure. All these measures yield good results."
Wu Bangguo will be accompanied on the Nigeria visit by his chief host, the Senate President Adolphus Wabara and the Speaker of the House of Representatives Aminu Bello Masari.