Ahead of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s visit to China, Chinese Ambassador to Egypt Song Aiguo hailed the close relations between China and Egypt as a model for Sino-African cooperation.
“Thanks to the joint efforts of both sides, we are delighted to see that the China-Egypt comprehensive strategic partnership has reached a new level,” Song told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.
The two countries have maintained close coordination on international and regional issues in recent years, the Chinese envoy noted.
The close political relations between the two countries are underpinned by the rapid increase in bilateral trade and investment as well as cooperation in carrying out major infrastructure projects, Song said.
In 2017, China maintained its status as Egypt’s largest trading partner and source of imports, while China’s investment in Egypt continued to increase rapidly, he said.
The China-Egypt bilateral trade in 2017 totalled $10.83 billion, while the number of Chinese citizens visiting Egypt hit a record high of 300,000.
“The two countries also made promising progress in mutual exchanges and cooperation in the fields of science and technology, education, health and environmental protection,” the ambassador said.
President Sisi, who has visited China many times since he took office in 2014, is scheduled to participate in the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) slated for Sept. 3-4.
“President Sisi’s visits to China reflect the importance attached by the Egyptian leader to the development of the China-Egypt relations,” Song said.
The FOCAC Beijing summit will be held under the theme “China and Africa: toward an even stronger community with a shared future through win-win cooperation.”
Through the summit, China will align the Belt and Road Initiative with the Agenda 2063 of the African Union (AU), the UN 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, and the development strategies of respective African countries, according to Song.
The initiative, proposed by China in 2013, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network that connects Asia with Africa and Europe along the ancient trade routes of the Silk Road.
Africa is a natural and historical extension of the “Belt and Road” as it boasts abundant natural and human resources as well as huge market potential, Song said.
Meanwhile, China is in the process of implementing the policies of economic restructuring and industrial upgrading, with the support of capital, technologies and cost-effective equipment, he said.
“The two sides can complement each other to achieve common development,” he said, noting that the Sino-African cooperation is the shared aspiration of the peoples of both sides.
Saying that the China-Egypt cooperation can be regarded as a model for the cooperation between China and African countries, Song believed Sisi’s upcoming visit to China will further promote the development of the Sino-African relations.
As an African country, Egypt is an important member of the FOCAC and has made important contribution to it, Song said.
“Next year, Egypt will assume the presidency of the AU. I believe that the new Sino-African cooperation projects proposed by the Beijing summit will be well implemented during Egypt’s presidency,” the Chinese envoy said.