|Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi|
Diplomatic sources told THISDAY last week that the CBN Governor’s criticism of the relationship between China and Nigeria, which he said carried with it a “whiff of colonialism,” is said to have ruffled the Chinese government, leading to a barrage of denials of some of the issues raised by the CBN Governor in a publication in the Financial Times of London on March 11.
A source, a leading financial expert, told THISDAY last week that representatives of the Chinese government in Nigeria had complained openly about some of the issues raised in the controversial article.
The CBN governor had stressed the urgency of the need for Africans to wake up to the realities of their romance with China.
When contacted, Director of Political Section, Embassy of Peoples Republic of China in Abuja, Yonghua Ding, confirmed that the embassy was aware of the development, saying “We have noted relevant remarks by Governor of the CBN.”
Faulting Sanusi’s position on the trade relations with China, the embassy spokesperson made allusions to two instances where China’s President Xi Jinping had dismissed the allegation that the bilateral agreement between Nigeria and China was lopsided.
He said: “If you have followed China's new President H.E. Mr. Xi Jinping's recent visit to Africa, you shall find that, during his visit, several African leaders expressed disagreement on so-called China's neo-colonialism in Africa."
Ding said shortly after the publication of Sanusi’s article, the Chinese President Xi Jinping, at a meeting with the Congolese President made a veiled reference to the issues raised by the CBN governor, stressing that developing friendly cooperation with African nations has always been an important cornerstone in China's foreign policy and a long-term and steadfast strategic choice for China." China will always be a reliable friend and a sincere partner of African nations, and stands ready to continue to reinforce and deepen the new type of strategic partnership between China and Africa within the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, said the Chinese leader," he said.
At another forum, Xi pointed out that China and Africa were linked together by a common destiny. History, he said, had repeatedly proved that when China develops well, Africa can develop smoothly; when Africa develops smoothly, China can develop better.
“At present, the international situation is undergoing profound and complex changes. China-Africa relations are facing not only unprecedented opportunities, but also the tests of many new situations and new problems. No matter how the international situation changes, China will firmly adhere to the policy of staying friendly to Africa, always be a reliable friend and sincere partner of African countries, and strive to make greater contributions to peace and development in Africa,” the Chinese President said. He added that China would always be a firm promoter of the prosperity and development in Africa, stressing, “The Chinese government will take active measures to encourage Chinese enterprises to expand investment in Africa and continue to ask the Chinese enterprises to actively fulfill their social responsibilities".
Sanusi said in the article that Nigeria, with its large domestic market of more than 160 million people, spends huge resources importing consumer goods from China that should be produced locally. The Chinese on the other hand, according to the apex bank chief, buys Nigeria’s crude oil.
“In much of Africa, they have set up huge mining operations. They have also built infrastructure. But, with exceptions, they have done so using equipment and labour imported from home, without transferring skills to local communities.
“So China takes our primary goods and sells us manufactured ones. This was also the essence of colonialism. The British went to Africa and India to secure raw materials and markets. Africa is now willingly opening itself up to a new form of imperialism.
“The days of the Non-Aligned Movement that united us after colonialism are gone. China is no longer a fellow under-developed economy – it is the world’s second-biggest, capable of the same forms of exploitation as the West. It is a significant contributor to Africa’s de-industrialisation and underdevelopment,” the apex bank governor said.
He said, “This African love of China is founded on a vision of the country as a saviour, a partner, a model. But working as governor of Nigeria’s central bank has given me pause for thought. We cannot blame the Chinese, or any other foreign power, for our country’s problems. We must blame ourselves for our fuel subsidy scams, for oil theft in the Niger Delta, for our neglect of agriculture and education, and for our limitless tolerance of incompetence. That said, it is a critical precondition for development in Nigeria and the rest of Africa that we remove the rose-tinted glasses through which we view China.”