Chinese President Xi Jinping (left of front row) holds a welcoming ceremony for visiting
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (right of front row) before their talks in Beijing
on December 23, 2014. Photo by Liu Weibing
China, Egypt elevate bilateral ties
to comprehensive strategic partnership
By Liu Hua and Yang Yijun
Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with visiting Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Sisi in Beijing on Tuesday of December 23, deciding to elevate the bilateral relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.
“This is an important milestone,” Xi said during the talks.
The establishment of the partnership will strongly boost cooperation between the two countries in several areas.
In a joint statement signed by Xi and Sisi on establishing the partnership, the two presidents pledged to boost political, economic, military, cultural and technological cooperation along with cooperation on regional and international affairs.
China pays great attention to the situation in Egypt and firmly supports the Egyptians’ pursuit for a development path suitable for their own national conditions, Xi told the Egyptian leader.
Xi said he believes the Egyptian government and people are wise and able enough to handle all problems and achieve stability and development in the country.
Hailing the traditional friendship between the two countries, Sisi expressed his gratitude for China’s support and assistance, especially for understanding the Egyptian people’s request for change in recent years.
The two leaders also pledged to cooperate on the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road Initiatives.
China stands ready to combine the initiatives with Egypt’s plan for development and boost cooperation in infrastructure, nuclear power, new energy, aviation, finance and other sectors, said the Chinese president.
Sisi said the Belt and Road Initiatives proposed by Xi have provided an important opportunity for Egypt’s renewal and that the Egyptian side will participate in the initiatives in an active way.
Sisi looked forward to China’s participation in Suez Canal Corridor projects, pledging that Egypt will create favorable conditions to attract Chinese companies’ investment.
In August, President Sisi gave the go-ahead signal for digging a 72-km expansion of the original Suez Canal as a national project to boost the country’s ailing economy, ordering “the New Suez Canal” to be open for maritime navigation in early August 2015.
Sisi also hoped more Chinese tourists will visit Egypt as more Egyptian students study in China.
During the talks, Sisi briefed Xi on his view on the situation in North Africa and West Asia.
Xi said as the situation there is complicated, it is of vital importance to find a solution that reflects regional realities and cover the interests of all sides concerned in a political way and through inclusive dialogue.
In the joint statement signed on Tuesday, the two countries reiterated they will support each other on issues regarding core interests and care for each other’s special concerns.
Egypt emphasized its stance of sticking to the one-China policy and China stressed its position of respecting the Egyptian people’s rights to choose their political system and development policy on their own as well as opposing external forces’ attempt to interfere in Egypt’s internal affairs in any name.
China attaches great importance to Egypt’s concern over water security, according to the statement.
In the statement, the two sides upheld that disputes between countries should be addressed through dialogue and negotiations, opposing interference into other countries’ internal affairs with military forces in any name and politicizing issues on human rights.
The two sides pledged to safeguard the United Nations’ key role in addressing international affairs and support reform of the United Nations and the UN Security Council.
The representation of developing countries, especially of African countries, should be strengthened first to rectify injustice that Africa has suffered in history, said the joint statement.
China supports Egypt’s crucial role in resolving the Palestine issue and other major issues in the region as well as the Egyptian initiative on rendering the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction. Egypt appreciates China’s objective and impartial position and constructive role in the Palestine issue and other major issues in the region, according to the statement.
They pledged to increase coordination and cooperation to jointly safeguard peace and stability in the region, according to the statement.
Sisi arrived in Beijing Monday afternoon for a four-day state visit to China at Xi’s invitation.
Egypt, China see huge
chances from enhancement of ties
By Mahmoud Fouly
As Egypt and China have decided to elevate their bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership, Egyptian economists see the move is likely to amplify investment opportunities and mutual trade between the two countries.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is currently on a four-day official visit to Beijing, signed on Tuesday a joint statement with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to boost political, economic, military, cultural and technological cooperation along with that on regional and international affairs.
“Egypt provides great investment opportunities to China and it can be a portal for Chinese products into African markets due to the Egyptian strategic geographic location,” Amr Saleh, professor of political economy at Cairo-based Ain Shams University and former World Bank project officer, told Xinhua.
The professor said that relations between Egypt and China should not be restricted to mutual trade “but it is very important to be elevated to the level of comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries,” stressing that both Egyptian and Chinese leaders have the political will for the move.
The Egyptian government led by Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab has recently established a special cabinet unit to study fields of cooperation with China, which shows the interest of the Egyptian leadership to boost partnership with the giant Asian country.
“Egypt needs a strategic partner not just a business partner, while China has a desire to create strategic economic alternatives in light of the slowing worldwide economy,” the professor added.
Saleh expects future military cooperation between Egypt and China as a key field of economic partnership between the two strategic partners.
“Cooperation in arms industries, which is worth billions of dollars, represents a good chance for both Egypt and China as it appears to be military while it is economic in the first place,” the professor told Xinhua, noting the industry is one of the main sources of national income for big countries.
Egypt’s economy has been ailing over the past four years due to political turmoil that resulted from the ouster of two heads of state. Sisi’s administration is currently struggling to put economy back on track.
Last August, Sisi gave the go-ahead signal for digging a 72-km expansion of the original Suez Canal as a national project to boost the country’s economy, ordering “the New Suez Canal” to be open for ship navigation in August 2015.
The Egyptian president said that the Chinese companies have great opportunities to invest in the Suez Canal Corridor projects, reassuring to facilitate procedures and provide an ideal atmosphere for foreign investors in Egypt.
“Chinese companies have vast opportunities to work in logistic projects related to the Suez Canal Corridor after the new waterway is completed, such as platform building, container making, ship maintenance and repair, fuel provision, etc,” said Hamdy Abdel-Azim, economics professor at Cairo-based Sadat Academy and member of Economy and Legislation Association.
He echoed Saleh’s view that there could also be future military cooperation between Egypt and China in weapon spare parts and development.
A few days before leaving Cairo, Sisi told Chinese official media including Xinhua that Egypt supports Xi’s initiative on building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Sisi said Egypt can be a key player in implementing this initiative due to its strategic location as portal for Africa and the Arab world.
“The Silk Road used to be a well-known historical trade route and if revived it will increase the trade volume passing through it,” the economic expert said, adding that Egypt needs to develop its basic infrastructure and services to attract foreign investors in general and Chinese ones in particular.
Abdel-Azim told Xinhua that the intended Silk Road symbolizes a key of future common trade between Egypt and China and a communication bridge between Asian and African countries.
Sisi has recently said that Egypt is establishing a huge road network of 3,400 km within one year as part of its efforts to facilitate investment environment to reassure foreign investors.
Trade volume between Egypt and China exceeded 10 billion U.S. dollars for the first time in 2013, more than 80 percent of which is represented in Chinese exports.
“Egypt needs to develop technologies and improve its products to be qualified for export and make up for the gap between its imports and exports,” the economist said.
He also expected the Chinese investments in Egypt, with maximum 10 percent foreign labors according to the regulations, to help reduce unemployment in the North African country.
Political turmoil over the past few years caused a sharp decline in the tourism industry in Egypt, which brought the country over 13 billion U.S. dollars in 2010 alone.
On Tuesday in Beijing, after signing a joint statement with Xi, Sisi hoped that more Chinese tourists will visit Egypt as more Egyptian students study in China.