|Nigeria Mainstream Newspaper THISDAY Publishes Acting Consul-General Qiu Jian's Interview|
'China is Nigeria's Best Partner in Technology, Infrastructure'
(THISDAY, February 14th ,2012)
Mr. Qiu Jian tells THISDAY that the blossoming business relationship between Nigeria and his country is the way to go for rapid technology and infrastructural development, which Nigeria desperately needs.
1. How long have you been in Nigeria? Is this your first time in Africa? What is your general impression of the Nigerian business environment?
Qiu: I have been here for two months. It is not my first time in Africa but my first time to be posted here (Nigeria).
As a Chinese, I have to say that Nigeria attracts lots and lots of Chinese businessmen to come here; on the other hand I can say that is because some parts of the world are going through economic depression, but both Nigeria and China's economies are not in depression and so we can do lots of things together.
Also, we see lots of Nigerian businessmen in China, so we have nationals of both countries doing business and investments together.
At the just commissioned Dangote cement plant in Ibese, Ogun State, built by a Chinese firm, you will find there are already hundreds of local people employed there and this number will increase later because there are still some people undergoing training for now.
Our business relationship has generated a lot of transfer in technology which eventually employs thousands of local people after they have been trained, and that is a very good thing especially in a situation where lots of able-bodied people don't have jobs to do and earn a good living. So I believe that we have a very good potential for cooperation.
The Nigerian business environment is very good because it encourages us to bring in huge investments and technology. Engage in the training of locals who will manage the machines in some of the factories where these technologies will be installed and after their trainings, the local people are then employed to earn good salaries.
2. What particular area do you think the Chinese would want to explore in Nigeria for more business?
Qiu: That area would be infrastructure; you know China is very good at building infrastructure. If you look at China, you will see the advancement in the area of constructing highways, buildings and other infrastructure. In just ten years, China became the number one highway builder in the world; Chinese companies are very good in the building of these infrastructure.
And President Jonathan is very committed to providing infrastructure for Nigerians in the areas of education, roads, medical facilities and communications. These are areas of possible cooperation for Nigeria and China in which I can see a good future.
3. In which areas do you feel China has opportunities and would want Nigerians to explore more in the Chinese market?
Qiu: I believe it is in the area of manufactured products, a lot of Nigerian people go to China every year just for trade, which is a very good sign for our bilateral trade progress. China also produces a lot of products specially customized for the Nigerian market, which is a good thing because it serves the needs of the people better and in a specific way, too.
4. What is the current annual trade volume between Nigeria and China?
I can say it is more than $10 billion. And we would want to still do more because we need each other to grow.
We are open to not just Nigeria but other African countries as well, because most of them are under-developed. So there is a need to invest in them in order to bring about progress and development, we need progress and we need improvement; this leaves us with plenty room to actually do more.
5. What do you have to say about the quality of Chinese products?
Qiu: Every quality is dependent on how much energy or money that is spent on it. In China goods are sometimes customized to meet the taste of different consumption levels.
If you are willing to pay a high price then you can expect a high-end product that will be suited to your taste because it will require the use of expensive raw materials for its production.
There are also goods which are produced as substitutes for these high-end products by using different raw materials which will not be as expensive as the ones used in the production of the high-end goods.
The major difference in our products, lie in the durability of these products and not in the quality because the high-end products are actually made from raw materials which guarantee durability and are more expensive, while in terms of functionality, you will see that all products are made to function efficiently.
So naturally the cost of production which will also reflect in the cost of these finished goods is not a measurement of quality but a measurement of taste and how long the product will last.
The aim is to meet the needs of different levels of consumption, because every production must have to meet not only basic standards but also the different segments of the market or classes of consumers.
6. What do you have to say about the complaints that China is taking over American markets and jobs?
Qiu: We don't say much, we let other people say whatever they like because we are just focused on doing our business. We want to see our country make progress every year and also try and improve the living standard of our people.
We are still developing our economy so we don't really have that time to argue with other countries over some remarks, because we don't think it is worth spending time on. Our efforts are geared towards making progress and improving our peoples' living standard because we have a big population.
And a lot of our people are still living under the poverty line according to the United Nation's standard; this leaves us with much to do rather than engaging in arguments.
7. China and Russia seem to be opposed to external intervention in the Syrian crisis; can you throw some light on China's stance?
Qiu: China stands on the non-interference policy; we don't like to interfere in other countries' domestic business. And we believe that their own people have the right and wisdom to settle their internal affairs without external interference by another country.
So we don't interfere, even here in Africa we don't say 'you are not good' or apportion blames here and there, because we believe that every country has the strength and wisdom to do their things right and settle their problems when they have any, so we don't interfere into other people's business.
8. What can you say about the railway system in the country?
Qiu: In China, we build lots of railways because it is the cheapest means to provide transportation; it is very efficient, no delays and no traffic jam. We think it will be very good for your country as well.
Fortunately, a Chinese firm is building the railways lines for Nigeria, with several miles already built, so we hope that the cooperation will continue and someday it will become fully functional, which will be a very good thing for Nigeria.
9. Is there any cooperation between Nigeria and China in the area of education?
Qiu: Yes, because we believe that there is a lot of learning and transfer of knowledge going on between the two countries side by side even as we bring in investments and technology; we also engage in the training of Nigerians who will eventually take over and become managers.
I believe the two countries are on a good path about this and it should be encouraged and given all the support it deserves to continue yielding dividends of economic growth.
We also have the Confucius Institute here in Nigeria; two universities actually here in Nigeria. Confucius was a great philosopher and statesman of much wisdom in ancient China, and his philosophy has influenced the Chinese culture a lot.
His teachings centered on building a lifestyle of harmony and peace in the world. This is necessary to establish any form of productive cooperation for progress and development to take place.
The Chinese people have greatly built on his philosophy and today, the Confucius Institute is teaching this same philosophy to not just Chinese, but people all over the world, so that more and more people can know China better.
It is also an opportunity to extract more knowledge of what Nigeria needs as part of efforts to close any gap between us and strengthen the relationship while making progress together.
10. What advice or suggestion would you have for this country and President Jonathan in the area of economic development?
Qiu: I would say that first of all, the country is in good health and secondly the President is moving in the right direction because emphasis is being placed on infrastructure, Medicare and education, which portends well for the country.