Nigeria was the first stop-over for China’s state councilor and foreign minister Wang Yi during his on-going visit to Africa for one special reason: This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Nigeria.

During a meeting held between Wang and Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s president, on Jan 5 in Abuja, the president said over the past 50 years, Nigeria-China relations have achieved constructive results and Nigeria is very satisfied with the progress of bilateral relations.

In his remarks, Wang said the most important experience of the past 50 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Nigeria has always been mutual understanding, mutual trust and mutual support. He thanked Nigeria for siding with China on issues concerning China’s core interests.

Wang also reaffirmed China will continue to firmly support Nigeria in safeguarding its national sovereignty, security and development interests, and support Nigeria in playing a bigger role in regional and international issues.

For the past 30 years, Chinese foreign ministers have chosen Africa as their first destination for New Year visits. Wang’s visit to Nigeria marks his start of the traditional tour, which he said demonstrates the unbreakable traditional friendship between China and Africa.

“For 30 years in a row, China has started its annual foreign exchanges with Africa, and this year is no exception. China is ready to work with Africa to meet the challenges and overcome the difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nigeria, as a major African country, has always occupied an important position in China’s diplomacy with Africa,” Wang said.

Later during a press conference jointly attended by Wang and Geoffrey Onyeama, Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister, Wang revealed China and Nigeria have reached seven important consensuses on deepening bilateral cooperation.

Wang added the two countries agreed to continue to strengthen cooperation in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and firmly support each other until the pandemic is completely overcome.

For his part, Onyeama said the Chinese foreign minister made Nigeria the first stop of his first foreign visit in the New Year, which reflects the high level of Nigeria-China relations.

“Nigeria attaches great importance to develop close cooperation with China and regards China as a special strategic partner of cooperation. Nigeria firmly supports the one-China principle and appreciates China’s adherence to the one country, two systems”, Onyeama said.

“Nigeria will make every effort to ensure efficient operation of the intergovernmental committee of the two countries, push for further enhancement of bilateral cooperation and look forward to jointly hosting celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties with China,” he added.

Onyeama said Nigeria hopes to strengthen cooperation with China in infrastructure, education, information and communications technology, vaccines and other fields, and welcomes more Chinese enterprises to invest in Nigeria to ease the trade imbalance.

During this year’s tour, Wang is expected to tour five African countries namely Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Botswana, Tanzania and Seychelles.

It is expected discussions will revolve around how China would support African countries in combating the virus and achieving economic recovery, as well as advancing cooperation through the Belt and Road Initiative. Wang will also exchange views with leaders of African countries about preparations for the next Forum on China-Africa Cooperation meeting, to be held in Senegal later in the year.