Monday,23 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1280, (28 January - 3 February 2016)
Monday,23 October, 2017
Issue 1280, (28 January - 3 February 2016)

Ahram Weekly

The Modern Silk Route

The Chinese president visited Egypt to align the development plans of the two nations, reports Reem Leila

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Last week, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping, who visited Egypt for two days. The visit aimed at deepening the Chinese-Egyptian relationship and enhancing practical cooperation between the two nations. Xi’s trip to Egypt is the first by a Chinese president in 12 years.

During Xi’s stay in Egypt, he and Al-Sisi attended a ceremony launching the Egyptian-Chinese cultural year, marking the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Egyptian-Chinese ties. Egypt was the first Arab and African country to establish diplomatic relations with China.

“The Chinese government encourages and supports qualified enterprises to participate in large-scale projects in Egypt,” Xi said during a press conference.

“Bilateral relations between the two countries are at an important phase now,” Al-Sisi said.

Xi and Al-Sisi signed a five-year agreement under which the development efforts of the China-Egypt Zone of Economic and Trade Cooperation of Suez will be enhanced. Xi invited the president to attend the next summit of the Group of 20 (G-20), to be held in September in the Chinese city of Hangzhou.

Egyptian and Chinese authorities signed 21 other agreements in power generation and distribution, space technology, communication media, trade, finance, culture and climate change. Sahar Nasr, minister of international cooperation, said the total amount of the agreements had reached some $15 billion.

“These agreements will generate more than 10,000 new jobs while also opening the doors to at least 100 Chinese companies in various sectors, such as textiles, the petroleum industry, motorcycles and solar energy,” Nasr said.

Political analyst Hassan Nafaa, a professor of political science at Cairo University, described China as a traditional partner of Arab and African nations. “Egypt is working in a closer way with China in the framework of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum,” Nafaa said.

According to Nafaa, diplomatic relations between Egypt and China advanced to new levels after President Al-Sisi’s visit to Beijing in December 2014.

During the Chinese president’s stay in Egypt, he visited the ancient city of Luxor, an initiative, Nafaa pointed out, that was a clear and direct message to the whole world, especially the Chinese people, to support tourism in Egypt. “He wanted the world to know that Egypt is safe and there is no worry in visiting it,” Nafaa said.

The Chinese president also attended the launch of the second phase of the Egyptian-Chinese commercial and economic project of Al-Ain Al-Sokhna City, northwest of the Gulf of Suez, a six-square-kilometre area that is preparing to attract industrial investments amounting to around $30 billion.

Presidential spokesman Alaa Youssef said Egypt is bolstering cooperation with China in various fields, especially the Belt and Road Initiative. Youssef said Egypt supports the initiative and will actively participate in it so that it becomes a corridor connecting trade between China and Europe.

Dubbed by the media as the Modern Silk Route, it entails the creation of a network of roads, railroads, ports and airports that will extend from China to Europe, passing through Central Asia and the Middle East.

“China will effectively participate with Egypt in fulfilling all the signed agreements,” Youssef added.

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