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1.1      Background of study

The most widely accepted approach to the study of why nations relate with one another is the theory of realism (T. Dunne 2009:56). Realism as a theory of international relation is based on the idea that nations only relate with one another for self interest (national interest) and the desire for one nation to dominate the other (hegemony).2 However, another school of thought  sees the essence of international relations in another perspective. This school of thought postulate the desire of nations to relate on the basis of common interest and the need for common development.3 This school of thought is based on the theory of liberalism and idealism.4 This theory stated   there is the need for nations to relate with one another and this kind of relationship is meant to foster national development.5

Additionally, it is expedient to note that nations relate generally for different reasons. There can be diplomatic relations based on politics, economic, social, and military reasons.6  The  more economic viable nations  depend heavily on the  less economic viable nations to suceed.7 It is however sad to note that most developing countries of the world especially countries of Africa are  consuming nations. Although most natural resources of the world lies within this territory, the lack of a technological base and other deplorable state of infrastructure has bedeviled their industrial capacity for manufacturing.8 They  depend highly on importations of products manufactured from more industrialized and developed nations. Likewise, the developed nations of the world depend on the less developed nations for natural resources for their industries. All pointed towards the need for interdependence for attainment of national development. According to the Karen Mingst, national development encompasses the whole structure of nation’s developmental capacity which has economic development as its fulcrum.

The most powerful nations that control the world’s military and economic strength are called the great powers. The great powers include the United States, Great Britain, Russia, France,  Germany, Japan and China. These countries are  most influential in the world’s politics and economics of international relations.10 China, with a population of 1.3 billion people as at 2007, is the most populous country in the world.11 It has risen to become second largest economy in the world.  She is a rising power and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, with far-reaching ambitions.  In contrast to China, Africa is a continent of 58 countries which are among the world smallest and poorest, and China has relations with many of them.12  This relationship is due to the interest that China has in the countries.

The quest for political and economic dominance among states occupies the international political system.  For the past decade, the Chinese economy has been expanding with enormous energy resources, hence China has now set its sight on Africa. China’s interest in Africa is not new.  In the 1960s and 1970s, Beijing’s interest centered on building ideological solidarity with other underdeveloped nations to advance Chinese-style Communism and to repel western Imperialism.  Following the cold war, Chinese interests evolved into more pragmatic pursuit such as trade, investment, and energy.14

China’s increasing domestics energy demand, combined with declining domestic petroleum and insufficient coal output, has spurred her to pursue stable overseas energy sources. In 2007, China’s net oil imports amounted to 3.2 million barrels per day or 48% of its total consumption. In  2009, its daily import requirement   reached 10.7 million barrels which was 75% of consumption.15  The oil and natural gas production in Asia is not growing fast enough to meet Chinese demand, and a large portion of Middle East oil and gas production is normally allocated to the US and European markets.16  therefore, China must look elsewhere for a new energy source.

Currently an estimated 25% of China’s total oil requirements  come from Africa and China has placed high priority on maintaining strong ties with her African energy suppliers through investment, high-level visits and strict policy of non-interference in internal affairs of their suppliers.17 In January 2006, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing toured six African nations which are Cape Verde, Senegal, Mali, Liberia, Libya and Nigeria.  The visit was to  strengthening China’s interest in Africa.  After the tour, China’s African Policy was released as an official Chinese government paper aimed at promoting economic and political cooperation as well as joint energy development without interfering in each other’s internal affairs.18  Non interference in the internal affairs of other countries is a good posture.

Consequently, the era of sole dependency on western countries like the USA, Britain, France and Germany by African countries is fast gradually coming to an end. Year after year China’s bilateral and multilateral cooperation with African countries is increasing. China today is the Africa’s second-biggest trading partner after the US.16 From Nigeria’s railway and oil exploration contracts to Ghana’s billion dollars transport contracts and Angola’s oil deals, China has gradually taken over most economic trade centres of Africa. In Kenya, China is leading as expected in foreign investments with lucrative infrastructures, telecoms and defence contracts.17 Nearly all areas of the Kenyan economy have  attracted considerable interest from the Chinese investors. As reported, China has taken control of major infrastructure projects with an estimated 60 percent market share.18 Road construction, airports, water systems, power generation, housing and hospitals are all under the Chinese.19

 Nigeria is one of China’s biggest markets.  In July 2007, the Chinese government signed an 800 million dollars crude oil sales agreement with Nigeria in the following 5 years, china was expected to purchase 30,000 barrels of crude oil daily from Nigeria.  China won licenses to operate four oil blocs in Nigeria as part of incentives to build a hydro power station.  China also launched Nigeria’s first space satellite.19 The satellite launch has further strengthen china’s relationship with Nigeria. The impact of Chinese trade cooperation in Nigeria has  been outstanding. The oil sector, whose exploration over the years has been dominated by the western world, is gradually shifting towards the Chinese market. This was evident in 2009 when Nigeria’s NNPC signed an agreement with Sinopec a Chinese company to develop Oil Mining Lease (OML) 64 and 66, located in the waters of the Niger Delta.20 Another area of the influence of Chinese in the Nigerian economy is the power sector and the transport sector which have been the bane of Nigeria’s economic development.

Apart from the participation of the Chinese in the Nigeria economic development another notable influence of the Chinese is their increasing population in Nigeria. Chinese population has increased  from 8,300 in 1993 to 45000 in 2009.21 Chinese nationals have over 30 solely owned companies or joint ventures in Nigeria.22 Nigeria’s China town evolved as mere trading settlement however in recent times it has metamorphosed into a large Chinese settlement where most of the settlers are Chinese and most of the shops are owned by them.23 There are 2 important perspectives to China’s interests in Africa in general and Nigeria in particular. These are exploitation without accompanied sustainable national  development  as explained by the theory of realism. The other perspective is opportunity with sustainable national development as explained by the theory of liberalism. The Chinese increasing interest in Africa in general and Nigeria in particular is therefore an issue to be considered. This is in order to take advantage of the benefits of these relations as it affects the national development of Nigeria.

1.2 Statement of problem

Chinese economy has gradually grown to become not only a major economy in the world but also one of the most influential economies. Its influence in Africa has been quite enormous and strategic with its contributory role to infrastructural development. China’s increasing interest in Nigeria has also been  outstanding in the last 20 years. Currently China  is seriously competing with western countries in term of investment in different sectors of Nigerian. Consequently, There is the need to analyse the increasing interest of the China in the Nigerian economy. This is to avoid a possible neorealist attitude or resource exploitation which characterized the interest of the Western countries in Africa. Furthermore, It is  expedient to make sure that the Nigeria economy benefits considerably from this bilateral relations. Based on the foregoing, this study seeks to give answers to the following questions.

a.         How has the Chinese increasing presence in Africa affected the Nigeria?

b.        What are the implications of the increasing interest of China to the national development of Nigeria?

c.         What are the challenges facing the China-Nigeria bilateral relationship for Nigeria’s national development?

c.         What are the possible strategies and policies to be adopted to help enhance this relationship for Nigeria’s national development.

1.3  Objectives of the study

            The objectives of this study are:

a.         To analyse the increasing interest of China in Nigeria.

b.        To   highlight the implication of the increasing interest of China in Nigeria.

c.         To examine the challenges to an efficient bilateral relationship between China and Nigeria with regards to Nigeria’s national development.

d.        To proffer strategies for a better bilateral relationship between Nigeria and China for Nigeria’s national development.

1.4 Significance of the study

The study is expected to benefit the ministry of foreign affairs in its efforts of pursuing a mutually beneficial foreign relationship with China towards enhancing Nigeria’s national development.  it would also benefit the private sector, MDAs  as well as other polices maker within Nigerian government. The study will also contribute immensely to the existing body of knowledge on international relations as it relates to national development.

It is hoped that the study will add to the existing but limited literatures on the issue of China’s bilateral relation with Nigeria and its implication to Nigeria’s national development. It will finally provide materials for future studies on this topic.

1.5 Scope of the study

The concept of international relations is quite broad and contains many theories with different perspective. This paper will  only cover the theories of Realism and Idealism/Liberalism. In as much as China’s interest in Africa has been notable some years back before the beginning of the millennium, this study will only cover the period from the year 2000 to 2010. This is the period when  Chinese made notable impact  on the Nigeria’s economy.

12.      Therefore , this study will  utilize extensively, relevant data  from the year 2000 to 2010. There could however be references made to literatures earlier than the said dates especially on the concept of international relations and national development.

1.6 Limitations of the study

This research work was impaired by some limitations. A major limitation was the use of secondary data to analyse the concepts of international relations as it relates to national development. Although, the data used was from reputable sources, the authenticity of their findings might not be insulated from bias.

18.      The concepts of international relations and national development are intangible. Hence, the empirical testing of both concepts was relatively impossible. However, these did not affect the quality of research carried out and the outcomes of the findings.

1.7 Research hypothesis

19.      The significant growth of China’s economy and its increasing interest in Africa is a matter of concern. Especially has it relates  to the influence of emerging economies and their relationship with developing nations. In this case China and Nigeria.  This relationship on one perspective is based upon the common interest of nations for collective and national development as postulated by the theory of idealism and liberalism. Nigeria therefore seeks to gain in many ways in this bilateral relationship. Some of the areas where this relationship has impacted on Nigeria’s development are infrastructural development, science and technology, bilateral trade and many more.

20.      However, it is necessary to consider this relationship with a view to identifying its adverse effects  on Nigerian national development. This is as postulated by the theory of realism.  Consequently, this study seeks to point out what Nigerian government could do about this adverse effects  to derive optimum benefit for her national development.


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