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Chinese Navy Visits Nigeria To Strengthen Hold In West Africa

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To take a step forward in growing their influence over Africa’s Atlantic coast, Chinese destroyer Nanning led naval fleet of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to Nigeria on Sunday for Chinese military to pay its rare but significant visit.

In terms of the Chinese ambassador the five-day official trip to Nigeria is a milestone in the ties between the two countries. On the other hand, the Nigerian navy showed intent to have deeper association with China to fight maritime security threats and ensure control in the Gulf of Guinea, the Chinese embassy mentioned in a statement on Monday.

The destroyer, an accompanying vessel, Sanya, and a supply ship, Weishanhu, docked off the port of Lagos, with the Nanning berthing for a port call through Thursday, stated the Nigerian navy.

West Africa, mainly Nigeria and Angola, is a region rich in oil and is also a major oil supplier of China. China’s top oil explorer CNOOC Ltd takes part in deep-sea production off the Nigeria coast.

Nigeria inaugurated a $1 billion deep seaport in Lagos built by China in January. One of the biggest in the area, the new Lekki deep sea port is controlled to a 75% extent by the Singapore-based Tolaram group and the government-owned China Harbour Engineering Co.

There have also been rumours that China’s military could use the Gulf of Guinea as a base. US defence officials raised alarm about the possibility of such a station, possibly in Equatorial Guinea.

China has been able to administer its influence in almost the entire African continent by means of loans, investment and trade in the last 30 years.

China’s maiden overseas naval base was opened in Djibouti that alarmed its critics who suspected the Asian giant might establish additional regional “logistics facilities” as the Chinese military builds power to produce in an area far away from home.

The impoverished island nation of Sao Tome and Principe in the Gulf abandoned connections with democratically-run Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory, and instead forged diplomatic ties with Beijing in 2016.

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