By Ochiaka Ugwu
International relations experts and senior fellows in Centre for China Studies (CCS) have advised Nigerians not to allow the alleged maltreatment of Nigerians and other African nationals in Guangzhou capital of Guangdong Province to stain the progressive China, Nigeria relations.
Speaking in a press conference on “Nigeria-China Cooperation: Towards a community of shared future” Friday in Abuja, the Director of the Centre, Mr. Charles Onunaiju who said Nigeria-China bilateral cooperation is too vital to be distracted by the exigencies and nuances of transitional rules in epidemic control noted the two nations share strong symbolic identities.
Onunaiju informed that a diplomatic cooperation established in 1971 between the two countries have nurtured profound and dynamic exchanges and since 2005, transformed into a quality brand of ‘strategic partnership.
He stressed that Nigeria-China cooperation has deepened considerably and constitutes a strategic pivot to the dynamic prospects of China-Africa relation.
Onunaiju stated that as a think tank committed to the scholarly interrogation of China and her broad cooperation with Nigeria in particular and Africa in general, the Centre viewed with concerns some recent issues relating to the outbreak of the Covid-19 and the ramifications of several measures adopted by different countries to control and contain the virus.
“The novel measures adopted by some countries to combat the novel virus, have brought enormous pressure on normal lives of citizens and also some visitors. This is to be expected as such pandemic control measures like quarantine, social and physical distancing and wide restriction of movements is now universal tool in the combat against the highly infectious disease. Nigerians and other African travelling to Guangzhou, the Chinese coastal City have been part of its social and cultural fabric.
“As the city battles to rein in the spread of the virus, some of its control strategies as a matter of common sense would bring some discomfort not only to visitors but also the resident population”.
He said as a strategic partner, Nigeria is obviously in the frontline of China’s diplomatic engagement in Africa and the practical outcomes are hugely game-changing for a country taking economic recovery and revitalization of its key infrastructures as its vital focus.
He praised the Chinese Ambassador To Nigeria, Dr. Zhou Pingjian, saying that he has been busier than his peers.
“We have tracked his visits to almost all the States in Nigeria including the North East considered to be the epicenter of Boko Haram Terrorism. He has robustly engaged in public clarifications of several issues and concerns to Nigeria public through incisive articles. He has published more than any other serving envoy in Nigeria in the local print media.
“At the outbreak of Covid-19 in China and following the concerns of Nigerians with relatives in China, he hosted public meetings with concerned relatives to reassure them of the safety of their family members”.
Also speaking, former Director General of National Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) and Senior Fellow at the Centre, Prof. Joseph Golwa noted that China, Nigeria relations have been beneficial to Nigeria.
Another Senior Fellow, Comrade Abbas Hassan noted that Coronavirus pandemic is a global issue that must be solved with far reaching global cooperation.
It was reported in the media that Nigerians and other African nationals are singled out for forced quarantine in Guangzhou as part of the measures to curtail the spread of coronavirus pandemic.
This narrative attracted a lot of reactions capable of spoiling the successful bilateral engagements that Nigeria is currently enjoying with China which is based on mutual benefit.