The bilateral relations between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the People’s Republic of China was formally established in 1971.
Relations between Nigeria and China have expanded on growing bilateral trade and strategic cooperation. China is thus considered as one of Nigeria’s closest allies and partners.
These relationship that was intended to be symbiotic has fallen short of the expectations because of some misdemeanors by the Chinese Nationals backed by their government and the unwholesome activities of some Chinese Nationals.
Suffice to state that the unabated misconduct of these Chinese Nationals in conjunction with some corrupt government officials coupled with some very hostile Foreign Policies of the Chinese Government, cannot be swept under the carpet if Nigeria is to move forward.
It is noteworthy to state that in the last one year NO Nigerian Businessman was granted entry visa into China (maybe with the exception of Government Officials). The Chinese Government hinged its stance on Covid19 restrictions, however, Chinese Nationals enjoyed unrestricted movements in and out of Nigeria for business activities.
Some of the activities of the Chinese Nationals include but not limited to:
Involvement in Illegal Mining:
The unhindered illegal mining of mineral resources in the country is worrisome. There seems to be a strong cartel of Nigerians and Chinese Nationals involved in this heinous act. The criminal collaboration between Nigerians in high positions of authority and Chinese corporations in illegal mining of gold in Northern Nigeria has been noted to be a driving force of rural Banditry and violent local conflicts in these areas.
It is on record that two Chinese Nationals were arrested for illegal mining in Zamfara State.
Involvement in Smuggling.
Chinese Nationals in Nigeria have been pinpointed to be deeply involved in large scale smuggling of goods in and out of the country. This to a very large extent is having its adverse effects on the already dwindling economic situation of the country, while also taking its toll on the growth of local industries. These dubious Chinese Nationals have turned Nigeria into a dumping ground of fake and substandard products.
Involvement in illegal Deforestation.
Reports are rife that Chinese Nationals are deeply involved in illegal felling of trees particularly in the South West of Nigeria without due environment Impact assessment. This illegal deforestation has its attendant impact on the environment, climate and the economy.
Involvement in the Construction sector.
It is no more news that most contracts in the construction sector these days have been hijacked by the Chinese with the help of some Nigerians. The sad part of this trend is that the juicy skilled jobs are taken up by inexperienced and non-professional Chinese Nationals “imported” specifically for these jobs, while the menial jobs on the contract are reserved for Nigerians under very deplorable conditions that can only best be unimagined.
Involvement in illegal Financial transactions.
There are also reports of Chinese Nationals being involved in money laundering and shady financial transactions to include printing of fake credit cards and other financial crimes.
There seems to be a deliberate educational policy put in place by the Chinese Government against Nigerians. It is on record that Young Nigerians are denied free access and admission to study in institutions in China. It appears there is a covert agenda to prevent Young Nigerians from having access to transfer of technological skills and expertise.
A school of thought has it that Nigerians are denied learning in China so that they would not after completion of study, limit the dominance of the Chinese considering the magnitude of infrastructural development projects Chinese firms are handling in Nigeria.
PROPOSED WAY FORWARD.
As earlier stated, the relations between Nigeria and China was expected to be symbiotic, but it seems that from all the foregoing, Nigeria seems to presently be at the receiving end.
China seems to be hugely benefitting either legally or illegally at the expense of the Nigerian nation and its citizens.
It is high time the Nigerian Government reviews the existing relationship between both countries with a view to making it more beneficial to the average Nigerian and in particular the Youths.
The average Nigerian Youth with the intention and capabilities of studying in China should be consciously encouraged to do so, with the long run views of technological and economic value returns.
A study revealed that the relationship between Nigeria and China is not mutually rewarding having being tilted towards China. The unequal relationship between the two countries has invariably increased the dependency of the Nigerian economy on China thereby undermining the economic security of Nigeria.
The study further stated that for Nigeria to benefit optimally from its competitive relations with China, Nigeria needs to build up its internal productive capacity through regular training and retraining of its work force.
The relationship between both countries and its Nationals should be a win-win arrangement with special emphasis on respect for fundamental human rights.
It is also very pertinent to consciously check the illicit activities of these Chinese Nationals, their forays into illegal mining, drugs, illegal financial transactions etc have rubbed off negativity on the Nigerian Youths either directly or indirectly as they have been noted to be most vulnerable.
The various authorities at both the federal and state levels should make it top priority to check the misconduct of these Chinese Nationals that are also being aided and abetted by corrupt and mischievous Nigerians, as their activities have impacted negatively on the economy through revenue loss, unemployment, environmental degradation, capital flight and threats to security of lives and properties.
There should be a very deliberate engagement with the Chinese Government not only as it relates to contracts but also in the exchange of ideological, financial and socio-economic concerns.
In the same vein, the Chinese Government should be advised to reciprocate the Nigerian gesture in the area of issuance of entry visas to Nigerian Businessmen/entrepreneurs in order to foster the growth of business between both parties.
Concerned Business Group Lagos