Following claims by some experts as reported in the media that the Coronavirus may hurt the trade relations between Nigeria and China, the Chinese Embassy in Abuja has said that trade between the two countries has not in any way been affected as things have remained normal.
Political and Information Officer of the Chinese Embassy, Sun Saixiong, made this known to BusinessDay on Monday. “So far so good everything remains normal in terms of China -Nigeria trade relations,” he said.
Trade between Nigeria and China reached $8.6 billion in the first half of 2019, according to data released by Chinese Consul-General in Nigeria, Chu Maoming.
Sun noted that the visa applications and issuance of visas by the embassy have not changed. “We have not noticed anything abnormal taking place, everything is going normal as before and according to the information provided by our consular section, we have not noticed any decline in the application of the number of visas,” he added.
Sun disclosed that although some 60 Nigerians living in the epicentre of the disease had requested the Nigerian government to evacuate them, the Nigerian government after consulting with the House of Representatives, turned down the proposal.
This, according to Sun, is because they think the medical situation is much better in China than in Nigeria and the Chinese doctors have more experience in treating the virus.
He also pointed out that bringing the Nigerians back home carries is a risk that they might bring the virus into Nigeria where it has not been discovered yet. He added that according to a recommendation from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the best way to control the disease is for people to stay where they are and to take proper protection.
He disclosed that the Chinese National Health Commission had received 40,171 reports of confirmed cases and 908 deaths on the Chinese mainland, and in all 3,281 patients had been cured and discharged from hospital. There still remained 23,589 suspected cases, he said.
He stressed that so far, 187,518 are now under medical observation, who have been identified as having had close contact with infected patients. He said further that confirmed cases outside the epicentre keep dropping for five consecutive days.
Also speaking to BusinessDay on Monday, the Director of Centre for China Studies (CCS), Charles Onunaiju, said although the virus may cause a mild slowdown in trade, he does not envisage any major disruption in the trade relations between both countries.
“There could be a mild slowdown given that Nigerian businessmen may wish to delay their trips to China, a slowdown is not necessarily a slump and not a reversal on the gains made. So despite the obvious challenge posed by the outbreak of this strange disease, I can assure you that Nigerian –China relations is still at its best. No major disruption is expected and there are no doubts that trade will flow again.
“The fact is that some Nigerian businessmen travelling to China may have to delay their trips a little while. There has to be some implication with late shipments and arrivals, but in the overall, these are things that could be fixed. So that will not create any major disruption in the bilateral trade relations between Nigeria and China,” he said.
He explained that China had taken measures to mitigate the outcome and more importantly to confront this disease to ensure that it does last long and whatever impact it has will be fleeting and not seriously challenging the global economy.
He said further that China had done well to ensure that the Coronavirus does not become a global pandemic, adding that China had taken very responsible action to mitigate the spread and urged Nigerians not to panic.
“Our own health authorities have promised to put into effective measures to screen people arriving in Nigeria and in my view there is absolutely no reason to panic. And for us this is the time to stand in solidarity with China just like if you remember when the Ebola virus hit Africa, China stood with us. China sent medical supply and medical personnel to help us in combatting Ebola,” he said.