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China enlists Egypt’s backing for Silk Road
December 24, 2014, 6:07 am

Former Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was sworn in as President of the country in June this year [Xinhua]

Former Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was sworn in as President of the country in June this year [Xinhua]

Chinese President Xi Jinping and visiting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Beijing on Tuesday announced that the two sides have decided to elevate ties to a “comprehensive strategic partnership”.

Xi also enlisted the support of the Egyptian President on China’s ambitious projects, the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road Initiatives. Sisi had said earlier Egypt can be a key player in reviving the Silk Route due to its strategic location as portal for Africa and the Arab countries.

The 4,000-mile Silk road linked ancient Chinese, Indian, Babylonian, Arabic, Greek and Roman civilizations. China has announced a $40 billion Silk Road Fund last month to boost infrastructure projects along the route.

China and Egypt will boost cooperation in infrastructure, nuclear power, new energy, aviation, finance and other sectors, said the Chinese President on Tuesday.

“This is an important milestone,” Xi said during talks with the military leader.

Trade volume between Egypt and China exceeded $10 billion for the first time in 2013.

Sisi also urged Chinese investors to participate in the Suez Canal Corridor projects.

In 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 ailing economy, ordering “the New Suez Canal” to be open for maritime navigation in early August 2015.

Boosting Chinese investment in the country is critical to Sisi’s efforts to rescue the economy. In September this year, Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab announced the formation of two ministerial committees under his supervision to enhance the country’s ties with China and Russia. The two units include members from the ministries of trade and industry, petroleum and mineral resources, electricity and renewed Power, foreign affairs, international cooperation, agriculture, transportation, and investment.

Former Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was sworn in as President of the country in June this year.

“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,” Chinese President Xi said on Tuesday.

Egypt has been polarised since Sisi ousted former President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood last year after mass protests.

China stressed its position of “opposing external forces’ attempt to interfere in Egypt’s internal affairs in any name”, said a joint statement issued after talks between the two sides.

After Sisi deposed former President Mursi and became Egypt’s de facto ruler, security forces mounted one of the toughest crackdowns on the Brotherhood in its 86-year history. Hundreds were killed in street protests and thousands of others jailed.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Chinese and Egyptian Presidents also discussed conflicts and violence in North Africa and West Asia.

Both sides agreed on the need 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”.

“China supports Egypt’s crucial role in resolving the Palestine issue and other major issues in the region… 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.

Sisi arrived in Beijing Monday afternoon for a four-day state visit to China at Xi’s invitation.


Related: Historic ties at core of China-Egypt relationship


 TBP and Agencies

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