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Cultural Diplomacy and Economic Cooperation: Highlights from the China-Nigeria Intergovernmental Committee Session

Cultural Diplomacy and Economic Cooperation: Highlights from the China-Nigeria Intergovernmental Committee Session

Jerry Adesewo

The recent first Plenary Session of the China-Nigeria Intergovernmental Committee, held on 21st June 2024, marks a significant milestone in the evolving relationship between the People’s Republic of China and the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Beyond the diplomatic and economic agreements, the session underscored the crucial role of cultural programmes and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in strengthening bilateral ties.

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In his opening remarks, H.E. Wang Yi, Member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Minister of Foreign Affairs, emphasised the importance of cultural diplomacy. “Culture is the bridge that connects hearts and minds across borders,” Wang Yi noted, highlighting initiatives such as the Happy Chinese New Year, Chinese-Nigeria Culture Week, and the Chinese-Nigeria Film Festival.

These cultural programmes aim to deepen mutual understanding and foster a sense of shared heritage. H.E. Yusuf Tuggar, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, echoed this sentiment, stating, “Through cultural exchange, we build the foundation for lasting partnerships. The rich cultural tapestry of Nigeria and China provides a unique opportunity for mutual learning and appreciation.”

The session also placed significant emphasis on the upcoming 2024 FOCAC Summit. Nigeria’s support for China in hosting the summit was reaffirmed, recognising FOCAC’s role in promoting China-Africa relations. “FOCAC is not just a forum; it is a platform for genuine partnership and cooperation,” said Professor Yusuf Tuggar. He added that the summit will provide an avenue to discuss and implement strategies that benefit both China and Africa.

The joint statement issued after the session highlighted the importance of FOCAC in international peace and development. Both countries committed to leveraging FOCAC to enhance political mutual trust, support economic development, and address global challenges. “We see FOCAC as a vital mechanism for fostering sustainable development and peace in Africa,” Wang Yi remarked, underlining China’s commitment to Africa’s growth and stability.

Additionally, the two sides agreed to advance the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in alignment with the outcomes of the FOCAC conference and Nigeria’s Renewed Hope Agenda. The focus will be on infrastructure, digital economy, green economy, and blue economy projects. China expressed willingness to expand imports of Nigerian agricultural products, while Nigeria called for increased collaboration in mining and solid mineral development, as well as manufacturing.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s leadership in ECOWAS and his efforts toward regional stability were also commended. Both nations pledged to create a business-friendly environment and protect the rights and dignity of their citizens living in each other’s countries.

The cultural and economic dimensions of this session illustrate the multifaceted nature of China-Nigeria relations. By prioritising cultural exchange and economic cooperation through FOCAC and BRI, both nations aim to build a robust and resilient partnership.

In conclusion, the first Plenary Session of the China-Nigeria Intergovernmental Committee has set the stage for deeper cultural and economic ties. As Wang Yi aptly put it, “Our cooperation is built on mutual respect and a shared vision for a prosperous future.” This vision, supported by tangible cultural and economic initiatives, promises to enhance the bilateral relationship and contribute to broader regional and global stability.

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