The growing relations between China and Egypt have provided historic opportunities for bilateral cooperation, Chinese ambassador to Egypt Song Aiguo told Xinhua in a recent exclusive interview.
The interview came a few weeks after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first state visit to the Arab country in late January, the year that marks the 60th anniversary of China-Egypt diplomatic ties.
During Xi’s visit, the two sides signed a five-year outline document to further their cooperation in various fields.
“President Xi’s visit and the document will cement our partnership and boost our cooperation in different areas including politics, trade, economy as well as military and security,” Song said.
“China has become a focus of Egypt nowadays after Xi’s visit,” the ambassador added.
Establishing diplomatic ties in May 1956, China and Egypt have always been promoting their friendship and bilateral cooperation over the past few decades.
During Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sis’s official visit to China in late 2014, the two sides agreed to enhance their relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership.
The Chinese diplomat continued that the complementarities between China and Egypt in location, natural resources and industrial structure, in addition to their common development goals, make their win-win cooperation practical and realizable.
“Egypt is located in a geographically important area with its influence on the Middle East, Africa and Europe,” Song explained, noting it is a major reason for selecting the country as a strategic partner under China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Proposed by President Xi in 2013, the main idea of the initiative is to revive ancient trade routes to link China with over 60 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe through the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road.
Chinese ambassador Song said that China’s economic transition and encouragement of domestic enterprises to seek opportunities abroad is another aspect of cooperation with Egypt that tries to attract more foreign investments.
“The common demands and shared interests between the two countries make Egypt and China key partners for each other,” the Chinese ambassador added.
The bilateral trade volume has increased from 6.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2011 to 12.9 billion dollars in 2015 despite Egypt’s economic recession over the past five years.
Song noted that in the year of 2015 alone at least 135,000 Chinese tourists visited Egypt, a “historic increase” of Chinese visitors to the most populous Arab state.
The ambassador reiterated that the friendship between China and Egypt may date back to over 2,000 years when the ancient Silk Road connected the two cultures, laying a cornerstone for mutual understanding and cooperation.
“Thirty years ago, China tried to learn from Egypt’s development experience and sent delegations to the country to exchange ideas about how to boost economic growth,” Song recalled.
“True communication needs efforts from the two sides,” Song concluded, adding that “under the Belt and Road Initiative and for the interests of our two peoples, China and Egypt will surely open a new chapter of win-win cooperation.”