By Deborah Coker
Benin – The Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Zhou Pingjian, on Wednesday in Benin, presented scholarship award worth N100, 000 each to 47 indigenes of Edo studying in various universities in the state.
Pingjian said the gesture was a clear demonstration of fostering mutual cooperation between Nigeria and China in order to build communities of shared future.
He commended the rise in areas of cooperation between countries of Africa and China since the establishment of diplomatic ties more than 50 years ago.
Addressing the students, the envoy said that since the establishment of bilateral relationship, the two countries have achieved remarkable progress which was clearly demonstrated during the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to China in April 2016.
Pingjian explained that during the visit, Buhari and China’s President Xi Jinping, reached a consensus to deepen strategic partnership across board between the two countries.
He added that the relationship entered heralded a new stage of trade development between Nigeria and China.
The envoy further said that presently, Nigeria’s trade with China accounted for 20 per cent of her foreign trade.
“Nigeria and China enjoys a lot of similarities and I couldn’t agree when people say Nigeria and China share the same similarities.
“You can imagine how great it will be if we work more together and take advantage of the population we both have as a country.
“China diplomatic ties with Nigeria are that of brotherliness especially since the establishment of ties between the two countries in 1971.
“Again, China diplomatic ties with Africa countries have seen a steady rise, also since the setting up of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2000.
“In 2000, China trade with Africa was only $10 billion, but today, it is 17 times larger than that figure.
“Similarly, China investment in Africa was only $500 million, but today, it is more than $10 billion investment.
“FOCAC has become a model in South South Cooperation; we can build a better future and make the difference through a win-win cooperation,’’ he said.
Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor, University of Benin, Prof. Faraday Orumwense, represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Administration, Prof. Jacob Ehiorobo, expressed gratitude to the envoy and urged the awardees to make maximum benefit of the scholarship.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the beneficiaries were drawn from the University of Benin, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma and Edo State University, Iyamho.