China and Nigeria can leverage sports to advance diplomatic relations between the two countries, according to, Minister Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria, Mr Zhang Yi.
Mr Yi said this while briefing journalists on Friday in Abuja on the sidelines of the 5th edition of the Nigeria-China ping-Pong tournament organised for journalists by the China Cultural Centre.
According to him, sports as part of the universal culture is an important means of bringing different people together in the world for it contributes to world peace.
He said, “We believe that there is a need for the two countries to try to use sports as a way to deepen relations between them for mutual benefits because sports is a totality of activities carried out in order to positively generate social, moral, and physical benefits.
“Nigeria excels in football in Africa, and China in table tennis which is considered a national sport based on its popularity in promoting people-to-people communication. We can use table tennis to build friendship between the two nations.
”It is important and I think it is special for young people to make friends, share ideas, and exchange thoughts.’’
Also speaking, Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, FCT chapter, Osaretin Osadebamwen, expressed appreciation to the Chinese mission for organising the event and promised to work closely with it to further promote people -to-people relations.
Mr Osadebamwen added that the support derived from the mission and its Cultural Centre has gone a long way in promoting the well-being of members of the union by keeping them physically fit.
“We have a robust relationship with China and there has been an increase in our trade volume over the past few years and this sport will continue to promote our relationship,” he said.
Speaking during an interview, the winner of the men’s singles category, Tiennabeso Bibiye, a n employee of African Independent Television, dedicated his trophy to the management of Daar Communications for its support.
According to him, the management provided the enabling environment for its staff to prepare adequately for the tournament.
“I came into this competition with some level of confidence, because I am a regular table tennis player, that is what I do. It is a passion for me, it is something I do to keep fit,” he said.
Adetokunbo Adesanya of the News Agency of Nigeria emerged second in the competition.