Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Ambassador Cui Jianchun in this interview with Ahmid Lawal spoke on topics concerning its government efforts to build a community with a shared future for mankind for Africans.
According to a study released recently by the Inter Region Economic Network, a Kenya-based think tank, a poll of more than 1,000 policymakers from 25 African countries finds that China’s infrastructure projects on the continent are seen as better than those of the EU in terms of completion speed and reliability. Based on the infrastructure cooperation, What are your comments on the China-Africa relationship?
The world today is undergoing major changes unseen in a century, and development is a pressing issue. The Belt and Road Initiative, the Global Development Initiative and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) are China’s answers to the “questions of the times” and contribute to China’s strength in global development. Development cooperation is an important pillar of China-Africa cooperation. At the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the FOCAC last year, President Xi Jinping summed up the spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation. In the past few decades, we have upheld this spirit and achieved many remarkable and tangible outcomes in China-Africa development cooperation, benefiting the well-being of people.
This year is the first year for the implementation of the outcomes of the FOCAC meetings. China and Africa have stepped up efforts to implement the outcomes of the meetings despite the negative impact of the external economic situation and the pandemic. In the first five months of this year, China’s imports from Africa increased by nearly 20 per cent year on year. Many China-Africa cooperation projects are making steady progress, including China-Africa joint centres for modern agrotechnology exchange, demonstration and training, “green lanes” for African agricultural exports to China, online shopping festivals featuring quality African products, “Future of Africa – a project for China-Africa cooperation on vocational education”, “100 Companies in 1,000 Villages” – a public welfare activity of Chinese enterprises in Africa for poverty alleviation, as well as digital education, regional intelligence centres, supercomputing centres, fibre backbone networks and other projects implemented by Chinese technology companies in Africa, demonstrating the vitality of China-Africa cooperation.
Infrastructure is one of the bottlenecks in Africa’s development. China has been doing its utmost to work with African countries to improve local infrastructure and contribute to Africa’s self-driven sustainable development. Since the establishment of the FOCAC, Chinese companies have built over 10,000 kilometres of railway, up to 100,000 kilometres of roads, nearly 1,000 bridges and almost 100 ports in Africa, and many hospitals and schools as well. Some forces have been denigrating China-Africa cooperation and peddling what they call “quality infrastructure”. What counts as quality infrastructure? Who is truly committed to the well-being of African people? The people of Africa know better than anyone else. China always sees Africa as a continent with great potential for international cooperation. All countries should respect Africa’s sovereignty and listen to Africa’s voice, and on that basis, use their respective strengths to deliver tangible benefits to the African people, instead of just selling empty checks.
Soon, China and Africa will further share ideas on the implementation of the outcomes of the FOCAC, make innovative efforts to improve the quality and efficiency of practical cooperation, let more people understand and support China-Africa friendship and cooperation, continue to strengthen cooperation on peace and security and coordination in international affairs, and jointly reinforce our commitment to peace and development.
In recent years some media organisations criticize that it is China that made some African countries into a debt trap, but citing data from the World Bank and the IMF, African governments owe three times more debt to Western private lenders than to China, and are charged double the interest. And some institutions, like Debt Justice called on Western countries to compel private lenders to take part in the G20’s debt relief scheme. What’s your comment?
I agree with Debt Justice in this perspective. According to data from the World Bank, of the $696 billion external debt of 49 African governments with data, about three quarters is owed to multilateral institutions and non-Chinese private creditors. Debt Justice found that for the 24 African countries with the highest debt burdens, the median share of their external debt payments from 2022 to 2028 to non-Chinese private creditors and multilateral creditors is projected to be 32% and 35% respectively. The average interest rate on loans from Western private lenders is almost twice that of Chinese lenders.
These facts and data show that the so-called “Chinese debt trap” is pure disinformation and a narrative trap created by those who do not hope to see China-Africa cooperation pick up speed. As Debt Justice’s head of policy said, “Western leaders blame China for debt crises in Africa, but this is a distraction. The truth is their own banks, asset managers and oil traders are far more responsible”.
We call on developed countries, their private lenders and multilateral financial institutions to take more robust actions to give developing countries funding support and relieve their debt burden so that the world economy will achieve inclusive and sustainable development. But first thing first, some developed countries must stop slandering China-Africa cooperation.
At the 50th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, nearly 100 countries expressed their understanding and support for China’s legitimate position in different ways, opposing the politicization of human rights issues and the use of human rights as an excuse to interfere in China’s internal affairs. Do you have any response to this?
A: Yes, nearly 100 countries expressed their support for China, apposing politicization and double standards of human rights at the UN Human Rights Council. This fully shows that the use of human rights issues to engage in political manipulation is unpopular and will never succeed.
China continues to make tremendous progress in the field of human rights. Some international forces slandered normal employment in Xinjiang as the so-called Uyghur Forced Labor. Xinjiang-related issues are not about human rights, but about fighting violence, terrorism and separatism. According to the figures available, between 1990 and the end of 2016, there were several thousand incidents of violent and terrorist attacks in Xinjiang, killing large numbers of innocent people and hundreds of police officers, and causing immeasurable property damage. In response to such real threats, Xinjiang has acted resolutely to fight terrorism and extremism in accordance with the law. At the same time, a series of supporting measures have been taken, like improving people’s livelihoods, raising public awareness about the law, and offering help through vocational education and training centres. The trend of frequent terrorist activities has thus been effectively curbed. There has been no violent act of terrorism in Xinjiang for five consecutive years and more. The safety and security of people of all ethnic groups have been effectively protected.
Today Xinjiang has enjoyed security, social stability and steady development. Between 2014 and 2019, GDP in Xinjiang has an average annual growth rate of 7.2 per cent, while per capita disposable income grew by an average annual rate of 9.1 per cent. All 3.09 million impoverished people by current standards have been lifted out of poverty, making absolute poverty a thing of the past in Xinjiang. All ethnic groups, regardless of their populations, have equal legal status and enjoy the freedom of religious belief and various rights in accordance with the law, including participating in the management of state affairs, receiving education, using their languages, and preserving their traditional culture. In recent years, over 2,000 people from more than 100 countries, including experts, scholars, journalists, diplomats and religious figures, have visited Xinjiang, witnessing the social security and stability of Xinjiang, and the people living and working in peace and contentment.
One of them is Ms Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. She visited China, including the Xinjiang region, and had an extensive exchange with people across all sectors in Xinjiang. She saw with her own eyes the facts and truth that people from all ethnic background in Xinjiang enjoy human rights under the law. But this visit outraged some western countries because Ms. Bachelet didn’t find forced labor in Xinjiang and that’s why they are now pushing the High Commissioner to resign, an evidence of their hypocrisy and manipulation of human rights.
Taiwan-related question is another hot topic recently in particular around the visit of US House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, what is your view on this issue?
There is only one China in the world. The government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. The Taiwan region’s participation in the activities of international organizations must be handled in accordance with the one-China principle. Since the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came to power, it has placed its political agenda over the well-being of the people in the Taiwan region, obstinately adhered to the separatist position of “Taiwan independence”, and refused to admit the 1992 Consensus embodying the one-China principle. The DPP authorities should know that the attempt to seek the independence of Taiwan by taking advantage of the pandemic will lead nowhere.
Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is a major event upgrading the substantive relations between the US and Taiwan and would send a very wrong signal to Taiwan separatists. It’s a serious violation of the one-China principle and the provisions in the three Sino-US joint communique. It has dealt a serious blow to the political foundation of China-US relations, seriously infringe on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and seriously undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
The position of the Chinese Government and people on the Taiwan question has been consistent. To resolutely safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country represents the unbending will of the more than 1.4 billion Chinese people. To realize the complete reunification of the motherland is the common aspiration and sacred obligation of all Chinese people. The will of the people is not to be defied. Those who play with fire will perish by it. The Chinese side will take resolute and forceful measures to uphold China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. All the consequences arising therefrom must be borne by the US side and “Taiwan independence” separatist forces.
People around the world are always clear-eyed. Any attempt to play the “Taiwan card” to contain China will be firmly rejected by the overwhelming majority of members of the international community and is doomed to fail.
Finally as a Nigerian, I want to take the advantage to ask a question about Nigeria: what are your points about the China-Nigeria relationship?
A: China and Nigeria are partners worthy of mutual dependence. Chinese always stresses the need for their country and Nigeria to harness all friendly activities, to deepen diplomatic relations between the two countries. China and Nigeria must enhance our relations through political, commercial, and cultural activities. China and Nigeria maintain constructive political relations, promoting the development of the China-Nigeria strategic partnership.
The two countries are strengthening an intergovernmental committee led by the foreign ministers of the two countries. This committee will coordinate the promotion of mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries in various fields: to promote China’s new development pattern and Nigeria’s new national development plan; to be more closely integrated and deepened; to build the “Belt and Road” cooperation jointly; to vigorously promote the construction of key projects to help the development of Nigeria’s industrialization; to continue to expand the space for cooperation to create new highlights of the digital economy and green economy; to carry out in-depth military security cooperation to improve Nigeria’s ability to maintain national security; to collaborate on regional affairs, practice the concept of multilateralism, and safeguard the common interests of developing countries.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and most populous country with significant international and regional influence. China is the largest developing country, and it is in the common interests of the two countries and the two peoples to strengthen practical cooperation in various fields. The cooperation between China and Nigeria will surely push forward the development of the China-Nigeria strategic partnership and inject new impetus into deepening China-Africa friendly cooperation. I believe that under the 5GIST China-Nigeria Growth, Development and Progress Strategy that I initiated, both countries and people will surely Share the Chinese Harmony and Perform Nigeria-China Symphony.