Jonathan’s Visit To China In National Interest – Presidency

ARRIVALThe Presidency has denied reports in a section of the media which suggested that President Goodluck Jonathan’s trip to China is a jamboree, saying instead it is in strategic national interest.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, who spoke with State House correspondents shortly before the departure, also denied that the trip was planned to spite United States President, Mr. Barack Obama, for excluding Nigeria from his itinerary during his recent trip to Africa.

He said: “China is a very important country. China is the largest market in the world, with its 1.35 billion people. China is also the world’s largest creditor nation. China is also the largest importer and exporter of goods and it is a large consumer of primary commodities, including crude oil. In fact, after the US, China is the largest importer of crude oil in Nigeria.

“So, it is in our strategic national interest to have very good relationship with such a country. Nobody can call this trip a junket. The claim that the China trip is a responce to the fact that Obama did not come to Nigeria is also not true because this trip was planned one year ago. Every country has the right to determine where they go.

“We have excellent relationship with the U.S. and the truth of the matter is that nobody can overlook America. But China is also an important partner. China has shown a lot of interest in Africa in the last few years.

He added: “Nigeria is a major trading partner with China. We have over 30 Chinese companies operating here.”

According to him, the President will use the trip to strengthen the bilateral ties between China and Nigeria.

He also explained that since the Chinese President just took over in the country, the trip will afford Mr. Jonathan an opportunity to reach out to key players in China and provide opportunity for the two leaders to get acquainted first hand.

“What Nigeria is interested in is long-term sustainable relationship between the two countries. The third leg of the trip is that China is a major trading partner in Nigeria. Last year alone, China imported about 80,000 metric tons of cassava chips.

“China has shown a lot of interest and support for the President’s determination to diversify the nation’s economy. So you find China supporting our agricultural programme.”

“Part of the purpose of this trip is also to encourage China to invest more in Nigeria; foreign direct investment. The emphasis is not necessarily on loans although during this trip, there are two concessionary loans that will be considered in relation to the Zungeru Hydro Power Project and one other.”