China pledges $40bn as Nigeria cuts ties with Taiwan

China has revealed plans to invest up to $40bn in Nigeria during a visit by its foreign minister, while Nigeria has promised to break off diplomatic relations with Taiwan and shut down Taiwan’s office in the capital, Abuja.

Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi (pictured) disclosed plans after meeting Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama (pictured) on 11 January.

The investment plan was described as an effort to deepen relations between the two countries, and comes at a time of heightened sensitivity over the Taiwan issue after US President-Elect Donald Trump appeared to challenge Beijing’s "One China" policy in December.

The government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China, and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory– Joint statement issued by China and Nigeria’s governments

Wang Yi said China had already invested about $45bn in various infrastructure projects in Nigeria and is on the verge of releasing another $40bn, reported Nigerian newspaper This Day.

In Chinese media, however, the focus of Wang Yi’s visit was Nigeria’s reaffirmation of China’s stance on Taiwan.

A statement issued jointly by the two governments put the One China policy at the "core of strategic partnership" between China and Nigeria.

"The government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria recognizes that there is only one China in the world, that the government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China, and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory," the statement said, reports Chinese state news agency, Xinhua.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari pledged that Nigeria would honour all agreements signed with the People’s Republic of China.

"This administration is very serious about infrastructural development. We want rail, road, power, skill acquisition for our people. We ought to have developed beyond this point, but we neglected infrastructure when we had the resources,"  Buhari was quoted to have said in a statement by This Day.

"Now, we have to collaborate with you, and we will keep our side of the bargain in all the agreements we have signed," he added.

On the same day Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, said that Nigeria had withdrawn its recognition for Taiwan to strengthen relations with China.

This meant withdrawing all diplomatic relations with Taiwan as a country, as well as withdrawing accreditation from Taiwan’s nationals, This Day reported.

It also meant that the Taiwanese office in the country’s capital, Abuja, would be shut, although the office would be allowed to relocate to Lagos as a trade mission with a "skeletal staff", This Day reported.

Nigeria is already among the majority of the world’s countries who recognise the People’s Republic of China as the legitimate government of China. But speaking to journalists, Onyeama said his government wanted to remove any doubt on China’s part.

"On the issue of building trust, the international community has embraced one China and China is a member of the United Nations and we don’t want to leave any doubt on the issue," he said, adding: "We adhere to it completely and there is no ambiguity at all."

Image: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, centre, with his Nigerian counterpart Geoffrey Onyeama during their meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, on 11 January 2017 (Xinhua/Zhang Baoping)

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