China‟s foreign policy toward Africa: Nigeria as case study

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Perhaps because of the misguided Western hermitic claims in historic present, Africa is regarded as the „dark continent‟ from where nothing important, aside from natural resources meant for the consumption of factories of the developed world, could emanate. Beyond this, one realizes that the existing relations between Africans and Europeans has been since about the Thirteen Century, and even at that, they said relations have mostly been asymmetrical and to the advantage of the Europeans. In recent decades however, especially since the Second World War, there has been a serious surge in the relations that African units enter into non-European states; and these comprise of the ones with the United States and Japan to mention a few. These countries and their European counterparts, mostly Britain and France that consider themselves as conventional „overlords‟ in the region are faced with serious contenders in the emerging Asian powers of China and India.
Really China and Africa are quite far apart; the existing relative amity between the country and the varying units of Africa is traceable to about 1000 BC. In 1415 however, Chinese explorers visited the East African coast, taking with them ship-loads of Chinese commodities, such as Ceramic wares in return, domestic articles of trade were given by some African states, for instance Kenya. The modern Sino-African relations started from the Bandung conference held in the 1955, which was widely regarded as a seminal event in Sino-Africa history (China –Africa Friendship and Cooperation, 2000). The conference was expected to enhance economic and cultural cooperation of the two continents and promoted the anti-imperialist and anti-colonial struggle. China presented to Africa what she called “five principles of peaceful coexistence” which covered mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-interference in each other‟s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit and peaceful coexistence. The achievement of great diplomatic success followed after the conference and increased Chinese interests in the continent. In 1963, Premier Zhou embarked on his first ten-nation tour of Africa to promote the second Asia-African conference. Zhou put forward a particular eight – principles that were designed to guide China‟s engagement to African countries. These principles clearly clarified the Chinese intention to assist African countries by the policy of economic and technical aid. On the ideological level, China seemed to support any revolutionary movement against imperialism, including African revolutions. On the political level, the primary motivation was to compete with Taiwan and then get Africa to support the Peoples Republic of China in international recognition as well as to compete with the Soviet Union in the African sphere.
China-Africa cooperation has particularly been put in the spot light. Some international observers accuse Chinese foreign policy towards African countries of undermining international efforts to increase transparency and good governance- (African research bulletin:2006). Others describe it as a policy of an aid for oil strategy or even a neo-colonial policy. On the African side, some blame on Chinese enterprises of underbidding local firms, especially in the textile industry, or of failing to hire Africans. In Beijing, the Chinese government insists on its non-interference policy and refuses to link business with the human right issues. The Beijing summit in 2006 accelerated the interaction between China and Africa even further, as the two sides decided to accelerate cooperation especially in joint resources exploration and exploitation.
The relations between the federal republic of Nigeria and the people republic of China have expanded on growing trade and strategic cooperation. Nigeria and the People‟s Republic of China established formal diplomatic relations on February 10, 1971.

In this study, China‟s foreign policy toward Africa is narrowed to her economic relationship with Nigeria. An attempt is made therefore to evaluate and critically analyze the extent of this diplomatic relationship. Since February 10, 1971, many Chinese leaders have visited Nigeria just as many leaders of Nigeria have visited China. Relations between the two countries have since enjoyed smooth and steady development. Since May 1999 after Nigeria returned to constitutional democracy, former president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo visited China twice, in 2001 and 2005 with his Chinese counterpart reciprocating both visits. Many high level visits have taken place between ministers and top officials of both nations. China and Nigeria have signed a number of agreements on trade, economic and technical cooperation as well as an agreement on investment protection. The two countries set up a Joint Economic and Trade Commission. During the first four months of 2004, the volume of trade grew further by 17.6 percent which amounted to $609 million with Nigeria‟s export to China registering a growth of 330 percent. China‟s main exports to Nigeria are industrial, mechanical and electrical products. China‟s main imports from Nigeria are Petroleum, Timber and cotton. Between 1999 till date, China and Nigeria signed agreements to boost their relations including the under mentioned followings;
 In April 2002, the two governments signed the Agreement for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect taxes on income.
 In July of the same year, they signed the agreement on cooperation on strengthening management of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and diversion of precursor chemical and the agreement on Tourism cooperation.
 Both states agreed to establish a strategic partnership featuring mutual political trust, mutual economic benefit and mutual support………………

In view of the need to access some crucial resources, which are relevant to both the sustenance and/or furtherance of its advancement, and in order to secure large market for its mass produced goods, China has deepened its interests and presence in Africa. Granted Nigeria‟s standing as the largest economy in Africa, one cannot but be more concerned about its relations with China. The win-win consequences that Sino-Nigeria trading relations would engender is already well established in literature, especially from Nigeria‟s perspective. However, there is still scanty attention to how such assumed „symbiotic‟ relations could be responsible for complex economic issues and problems in Nigeria.
The specific objectives of the study are to:
1. examine the growing importance of China‟s presence and interests in Africa for Nigeria‟s economy;
2. analyze the implications of the varying economic issues that could be engendered by the convergence of the growing Chinese interests in Africa for Nigeria; and 3. Investigate how Nigeria is responding to the complexity of economic issues arising from the convergence of Chinese interests in Nigeria.
The study will be having the following significances
A. Practical Significance
B. Academic Significance
Practical Significance
1. To assist the Nigerian public to understand China-Nigeria relations.
2. To assist policy makers in formulating diplomatic policies for the Nigeria government.
3. It will help government to review, strengthen and tackle Nigeria‟s challenges in her relations with China.
Academic Significance
1. To add to existing knowledge and works on China-Nigeria economic relations.
2. To accept or reject existing conclusion made on Nigeria-China economic relations.
3. To assist future researchers on related topics that may need the existing knowledge to create or build new knowledge.