Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L) holds talks with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja, Nigeria, May 7, 2014. (Xinhua/Li Tao)
ABUJA, May 7 (Xinhua) -- Visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang Wednesday called for strengthening traditional ties between China and Nigeria and exploring new space for cooperation including aviation and aerospace, in a bid to lift the bilateral strategic partnership to a higher level.
During talks with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, Li said that if China and Nigeria, the biggest and most populous economies in Asia and Africa, respectively, could strengthen cooperation, it would benefit the two peoples and also help promote regional and world development and prosperity.
Calling China and Nigeria important cooperation partners that present development opportunities to each other, the Chinese premier told a joint press conference with Jonathan that his ongoing visit is aimed at promoting the traditional friendship, strengthening cooperation between the two nations across the board, so as to continuously upgrade their strategic partnership.
Nigeria currently is China's third-biggest trading partner in Africa.
Li also expressed similar wishes for further cooperation with African nations in separate talks with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, Beninese President Thomas Boni Yayi, Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe and Malian Prime Minister Moussa Mara, who are all in the Nigerian capital to attend the 2014 World Economic Forum on Africa.
All the African leaders Li have met in his ongoing trip commended the China-Africa cooperation framework proposed by Li in his speech at the headquarters of the African Union on Monday during his visit to Ethiopia.
During those visits and meetings, China and the African countries agreed to make concerted efforts to upgrade their economic cooperation, which will strengthen economic ties and shore up mutual development, as well as inject vitality into the still fragile global recovery.
Industry, finance, poverty reduction, ecological protection, cultural exchange and peace and security were highlighted during Premier Li's ongoing Africa tour.
More support for investment, loans, infrastructure construction and other financial aid were packaged into the renewed cooperation drive.
Huo Jianguo, director of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said the two sides have maintained stable ties for years, with rapid economic growth even amid the headwinds from the widespread financial crisis.
In 2013, trade between the two sides reached 210.3 billion U.S. dollars, while the volume was just 250 million in 1965, with China staying as the continent's largest trade partner for five consecutive years.
China had directly invested over 25 billion U.S. dollars in Africa by the end of last year. More than 2,500 enterprises are doing business on the continent in multiple sectors.
Africa, with one billion people and over two trillion U.S. dollars in combined GDP, saw its economy growing by more than five percent annually over the past ten years. Of all the ten most rapidly developing economies in the world, six came from Africa.
In Huo's opinion, upgraded China-Africa cooperation will include investment in joint ventures and financial aid, in an orderly and sustainable manner that benefits both sides.
Chinese enterprises could build more industrial zones with local counterparts, covering sectors of home appliances, textiles, clothing and daily necessity, to meet local demand and nurture production capability there.
The upgraded cooperation, while beneficial to Africa, is consistent with China's domestic economic reform.
Liu Guijin, director of China-Africa International Business School under Zhejiang Normal University, said the cooperation allows China to transfer quality but excess industrial capacity to Africa.
Li arrived here Tuesday on the second leg of his first Africa trip as Chinese premier.
While in Nigeria, Li is also scheduled to attend the 2014 World Economic Forum on Africa.
Before Nigeria, Li paid a visit to Ethiopia, where he also went to the African Union headquarters and delivered a speech there to expound on China's Africa policy. Li will later travel to Angola and Kenya during his ongoing Africa tour.