H.E. Xu Jianguo

China's Ambassador to Grenada

Commentary: Ambassador to Africa's biggest oil producer, Xu Jianguo has presided over a rapid expansion of commercial and diplomatic ties since his posting to Abuja in September 2006. Chinese investment in Nigeria is worth more than US$3 billion, and bilateral trade in 2007 was running at over $4 bn., making Nigeria China's third-largest African trading partner, just behind Angola and Sudan.

Xu graduated from Zhejiang University in 1982. He stayed on at the university as Secretary of its Communist Youth League for several years before joining the Foreign Service. In 2001, he served briefly as attaché to China's Embassy in South Africa. The next year, he was appointed Ambassador to Georgia.

In June 2004, Xu moved on to the Foreign Ministry's new Department of External Security Affairs. The department was established to respond to threats against Chinese enterprises and citizens abroad, as well as to assess risks to state infrastructure in China's own troublesome autonomous zones. Xu was Deputy Director of the department until his assignment to Abuja in September 2006.

His security experience proved invaluable soon after his arrival in Nigeria. In January 2007, five workers from Sichuan Telecommunication Corporation were kidnapped in Port Harcourt. Xu coordinated a rescue operation that freed the hostages in 13 days. In May 2008, three engineers from the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation were kidnapped; their release was secured three days later.

Xu earned goodwill in Abuja - for friendship if not clairvoyance - by predicting a gold medal for the Nigerian men's football team at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. In the event, the Nigerians took a silver.

He became the ambassador to Grenada in October 2010.