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China–Nigeria relations

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The bilateral relations between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and People's Republic of China were formally established on February 10, 1971 - a decade after Nigeria gained its independence from the British Empire. Relations between Nigeria and China have expanded on growing bilateral trade and strategic cooperation. China is considered one of Nigeria's closest allies and partners. China is also one of Nigeria's important trading and export partners.
According to a 2014 BBC World Service Poll, 80% of Nigerians view China's influence positively, with only 10% expressing a negative view, making Nigeria the most pro-Chinese nation in the world.
2014 World Service Poll BBC
Although Nigeria maintains trade relations with Taiwan, and has a representative office in Taipei, it issued a joint communiqué with China in 2005, reaffirming that Beijing was "the only legitimate government representing the whole of China and Taiwan is an unalienable part of its territory".China and Africa: A Century of Engagement, David H. Shinn, Joshua Eisenman, University of Pennsylvania Press, 10 Jul 2012, page 87

Development of bilateral relations

Nigeria and the People's Republic of China established formal diplomatic relations on February 10, 1971. Relations between the two nations grew closer as a result of the international isolation and Western condemnation of Nigeria's military dictatorships (1970s-1998). Nigeria has since become an important source of oil and petroleum for China's rapidly growing economy and Nigeria is looking to China for help in achieving high economic growth; China has provided extensive economic, military and political support.
In 1996, as the Clinton administration lobbied in favor of sanctions against Nigeria, China, along with West-European countries, were unfavorable to a global freeze of Nigerian assets.
In 2004 and again in 2006, Chinese President Hu Jintao made state visits to Nigeria and addressed a joint session of the National Assembly of Nigeria. Both nations signed a memorandum of understanding on establishing a strategic partnership. China has supported Nigeria's bid for a seat in the U.N. Security Council. As of February 2013, the Chinese Ambassador in Nigeria is Deng Boqing.
In response to the hesitation of the United States and other Western countries to aid Nigeria in their efforts to combat insurgents in the oil-rich Niger Delta region, the Nigerian government has developed close military cooperation with China, which has supplied arms, equipment, training and technology to the Nigerian armed forces. Both nations also signed a US$311 million agreement to develop cooperation in communications and space programs; China helped develop and launch the Nigerian communications satellite (NigComSat-1) by 2007 to expand cellular and internet networks in Central Africa.
In January 2017, the Nigerian government ordered Taiwan to move its unofficial embassy out of Abuja, arguing that the African country was a defender of the One-China vision. This order came after Nigeria obtained a $40 billion investment pledge from China.
In 2021, the two countries celebrate their 50 years of official relations. By 2100, it was estimated that the population of Nigeria will surpass the population of China.

Degrading relations

In April 2020, the foreign minister Geoffrey Onyeama condemned China's discriminatory attitude towards Nigerians, after a video emerged on the web showing Nigerian residents in China being discriminated by locals. While Chinese officials said they took the issue very seriously, they also blamed Western media for emphasizing isolated events to feed a PR smear campaign over its Nigerian interests.
In July 2020, a secret loan agreement was signed between the two countries, with a clause that read: «The borrower (Nigeria) hereby irrevocably waives any immunity on the grounds of sovereign or otherwise for itself or its property in connection with any arbitration proceeding pursuant to Article 8(5), thereof with the enforcement of any arbitral award pursuant thereto, except for military assets and diplomatic assets.» This clause sparked an outrage in Nigeria, turning China into a new fully-fledged colonizer of Nigeria by buying its sovereignty. China invested $6.6 billion in Nigeria following this exclusive deal.
In November 2020, the Chinese government blocked China's entry to Nigerians over covid-19 concerns (except for diplomatic visas).


In 2015, a China-made drone crashed in the countryside of Nigeria. It is believed the drone was involved in Nigeria's struggle against the Islamic militant group, Boko Haram. China supplied the CH-3 to Nigeria government prior to 2014, along with YC-200 guided bombs and AR-1 air-to-ground missile.
In 2020, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Chief, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, disclosed that the NAF has concluded the acquisition of eight Wing Loong II, CH-4 and CH-3 drone.


Bilateral trade reached US$3 billion in 2006 – up from $384 million in 1998. During Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit in 2006, China secured four oil drilling licenses and agreed to invest $4 billion in oil and infrastructure development projects in Nigeria, and both nations agreed to a four-point plan to improve bilateral relations – a key component of which was to expand trade and investments in agriculture, telecommunications, energy and infrastructure development. Furthermore, China agreed to buy a controlling stake in the Kaduna oil refinery that would produce . Nigeria also promised to give preference to Chinese oil firms for contracts for oil exploration in the Niger Delta and Chad Basin. In 2006, China also agreed to grant a loan of $1 billion to Nigeria to help it upgrade and modernize its railway networks. In 2005 Nigeria agreed to supply PetroChina with of oil for $800 million. In 2006 the CNOOC purchased a share for $2.3 billion in an oil exploration block owned by a former defence minister. China has also pledged to invest $267 million to build the Lekki free trade zone near Lagos. However, the "flooding" of Nigerian markets with cheap Chinese goods has become a sensitive political issue, as – combined with the importation of second-hand European products – it has adversely affected domestic industries, especially in textiles, and led to closure of 65 textile mills and the laying-off of 150,000 textile workers over the course of a decade. Nigerian militants have also threatened to attack Chinese workers and projects in the Niger Delta. In 2010, trade between the two countries was worth US$7.8 billion. In 2011 Nigeria was the 4th largest trading partner of China in Africa and in the first 8 months of 2012 it was the 3rd.
In April 2018, Nigeria signed a $2.4-billion currency swap deal valid for 3 years. In 2019, bilateral trades between China and Nigeria reached $19.27 billion.

Chinese development finance to Nigeria

From 2000 to 2011, there are approximately 40 Chinese official development finance projects identified in Nigeria through various media reports.Austin Strange, Bradley C. Parks, Michael J. Tierney, Andreas Fuchs, Axel Dreher, and Vijaya Ramachandran. 2013. China’s Development Finance to Africa: A Media-Based Approach to Data Collection. CGD Working Paper 323. Washington DC: Center for Global Development. These projects range from a $2.5 billion loan for Nigerian rail, power, or telecommunications projects in 2008, to an MoU for $1 billion construction of houses and water supply in Abuja in 2009, and several rail networks.Strange, Parks, Tierney, Fuchs, Dreher, and Ramachandran, China’s Development Finance to Africa: A Media-Based Approach to Data Collection.
Since 2000, trade relations have risen exponentially. There has been an increase in total trade of over 10,384 million dollars between the two nations from 2000 to 2016.LeVan, Carl; Ukata, Patrick (2018). The Oxford Handbook of Nigerian Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 751. However the structure of the Sino-Nigerian trade relationship has become a major political issue because Chinese exports accounted for around 80 percent of total bilateral trade volumes. This has resulted in a serious trade imbalance with Nigeria importing ten times more than it exports to Chin Nigeria's economy is becoming over-reliant on cheap foreign imports to sustain itself resulting in a clear decline in Nigerian Industry under such arrangements.LeVan, p. 754-756. In September 2018, Nigeria signed a $328 loan with China to heavily boost the development of telecommubication infrastructures in Nigeria.
China provided the financing for the following projects in Nigeria:
  • Abuja-Kaduna Railway, Abuja Metro Light Rail, Abuja and Port Harcourt Airport terminals
  • Lekki Free Trade Zones, Ogun – Guangdong
  • Zungeru Hydro Power Dam
  • University of Transportation, Daura
In exchange, Nigeria often/systematically hired a Chinese firm to oversee its development projects, such as the 3,050 MW Mambilla hydroelectric Power Station.

See also

  • Africans in Guangzhou, China
  • Further reading

    • Ademola, Oyejide Titiloye, Abiodun-S. Bankole, and Adeolu O. Adewuyi. "China-Africa trade relations: Insights from AERC scoping studies." The Power of the Chinese Dragon. Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2016. 69–97.
    • Odeh, Lemuel Ekedegwa. "Dynamics of China-Nigeria Economic Relations Since 1971." Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria (2014): 150–162. in JSTOR
    • Oke, Muritala, Oluseyi Oshinfowokan, and Olubunmi Okonoda. "Nigeria-China Trade Relations: Projections for National Growth and Development." International Journal of Business and Management 14.11 (2019).
    • Osakwe, Adanma, "Exploring the complexities of the China-Nigeria relationship: Is China good for Africa?", International Affairs Review, v.1 n.4, March 2012,

    Category:Bilateral relations of Nigeria

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