By Menkiti Onyebuchi Bernie, Editor

Today, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) foreign mission to Nigeria held a reception marking the 70th anniversary of her existence as a republic. It was an occasion designed to celebrate her founding and as well as the successful journey of the republic by pronouncing the spirit of China, her heritage and her historic feat from the ashes of pain, sweats and agony to the world. It is also a reminder of the true worth of genuine sacrifice made by Chinese people to bring to an end the protracted tale of wars, shared agonies and untold hardship endured for the beginning of a new beginning.

It was more so, a time to strengthen her relation with her partnership allies, in this case Nigeria whose 59th independence anniversary is due on October 1; the same day the republican status of PRC was proclaimed.

The status of PRC as a republic began following the Chinese Communist Party’s (CPC) Chairman Mao Zedong famous proclamation on 1 October, 1949 at Tiananmen Square in Beijing. His heroic declaration was colored by a rare parade by the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) sparking chains of events leading to the fulfillment of China’s long dream.

Accordingly, the celebration of 70 years of China as a republic, exposes the significance of the proclamation on PRC’s steady growth. Hence, the value attachment to of this celebration to every Chinese.

The event which was held at Oriental Hotel Lekki Lagos, -and attended by top end businessmen, bank CEO’s, government officials, seasoned media groups including Diplomatic Watch, members of the diplomatic corps’ community- started with an opening speech from the new Consul General (CG) of Chinese Consulate in Lagos, Chu Maoming. In his opening speech, he highlighted the significance of the celebration thus; ‘this festive occasion provides us with a good opportunity to walk through the 70 years of the PRC and to embrace the coming of the Chinese dream of great national rejuvenation.’

He went further to define the PRC’s road to socialism, and eventual economic prosperity as a torrid journey which was marked by a foundational progression of the PRC. He said, ‘ this journey witnessed, since the 1st National People’s Congress in 1954, the CPC rallied the Chinese people and led them in carrying out socialist revolution, establishing socialism as China’s basic system, and advancing socialist construction, which laid down the fundamental political preconditions and institutional foundations for all development and progress in contemporary China, and laid down a solid foundation for PRC’s development, prosperity, and strength and the Chinese people’s affluence.’

Importantly, the 70th anniversary echoed PRC’s giant leap in socio-economic and political advancement, and the consular general factored this in his speech. With absolute pride of PRC’s great progression, he said, ‘..after 70 years of development, China today stands at a new historical starting point. PRC’s per capita GDP comes to $10,000 from less than $100, and the average life expectancy in China comes to 77 from 35. Especially since China started its reform and opening-up in 1978, China’s GDP has averaged an annual growth rate of around 9.5%, and more than 700 million Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty.’

He further extolled the PRC’s economic power in the world by bringing to the fore global indices that supports PRC’s widening influence in world economic order, a feat he attributed to her domestic efforts. To this regard he said; ‘…beyond that, as the second largest economy, the largest industrial producer and the largest trader of goods in today’s world, China contributed over 30% of the global economic growth over the recent years.’

In recounting the impact of Chinese economic boom in a time the economic prosperity of so many countries of the world was in ruin remains one of the heights of her greatness since the proclamation. CG Moaning said, ‘today, China enjoys a harmonious society, prosperous economy and rapidly advancing science and technology, while the Chinese people enjoy a happy life that they dreamed for generations.’

His position was shared by the President of PRC H.E. President Xi Jinping when he spoke about national rebirth as a tool for citizen liberation. President Xi had said, “today, we are closer to, more confident in, and more capable of making the goal of national rejuvenation a reality than ever before .”

The critical part of the days event included Consul General Moaning part of the speech that talked about Africa and her widening partnership with the PRC. Consul Moaning while delivering the speech said; ‘China and Africa are closely connected heart to heart and share similar dreams. During the past years, the friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Africa has constantly achieved remarkable results under the guidance of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). Going forward, we will fully implement the eight major initiatives announced at last year’s FOCAC Beijing Summit and continuously deepen our BRI cooperation. Seizing these two opportunities, we can build an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future.’

Particularly interesting was his position on Nigeria and her relationship with the PRC which was birthed through a diplomatic tie in 1971. He said, ‘in this regard, the China-Nigeria relationship has set a good example for cooperation between China and other African countries. Nigeria is the largest economy and most populous country in Africa, while China is the largest developing country in the world.’

He also extolled and affirmed the 2005 strategic partnership between the PRC and Nigeria. According to Consul General Maoning, ‘the relationship have maintained a sound momentum of development, the friendship between our people has deepen, and mutual political trust has been steadily consolidated.’

He stated further, ‘the year of 2019 also remarks the first year that Nigeria formally joins the big family of the BRI, since China and Nigeria signed a governmental MOU on jointly building the BRI during the FOCAC Beijing Summit last September.’

Importantly, CG Maoning highlighted the gains of her strategic partnership with Nigeria. He said, ‘because of our joint efforts, the practical cooperation in all fields between our two countries has borne rich fruit. The bilateral trade reached $8.68 billion from January to June 2019 with 20.7% percent year-on-year growth. China now is still Nigeria’s largest sources of imports and second largest trading partner. A large number of cooperative projects are vigorously promoted by both sides, such as the Zungeru Hydropower Plant, Mambilla Power Project, Lekki Deep Seaport, Lagos-Calabar coastal railway line, etc. With more and more Nigerian students studying in China under the sponsorship of the Chinese government scholarship, China has also set up two Confucius Institutes in Nigeria. The list could go on and on. We are glad to note that China-Nigeria relations have entered into the best period in history.’

The CG’s speech was signed off with recitations and cultural dances reflecting the rich heritage of the Chinese. The event attracted people from diverse career backgrounds and afforded the PRC the opportunity to showcase herself to the world.

Below are some  photos from the event. Photo credit: Nathaniel Gotevbe, Correspondent