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In its 63rd year, Sino-Egyptian relationship has grown stronger amid the changing international landscape

As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China and recall how we have shaken off poverty and become the world's second largest economy, we must also note how Sino-Egyptian relations have developed and grown stronger amid the changing international landscape.

Our bilateral ties bear witness to the high value we place on our mission to strengthen friendly relations with other developing countries and turn the Chinese and Egyptian peoples' shared aspirations for a better future into reality.

Seven decades ago, under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, the Chinese people founded a new nation, the People's Republic of China, through hard-won victories and laborious struggles. In the early 1950s, faced with an extremely harsh international environment, Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai worked with Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein to initiate diplomatic relations, which were formalized in 1956. Egypt thus became the first African and Arab country to establish diplomatic relations with the newly founded republic.

The bilateral ties came as a break from the political and diplomatic blockade China had found itself in at that time. And it proved to be a new chapter in the history of two ancient peoples spanning thousands of years. China stood by Egypt when it faced external threats. During the Suez Crisis, which became a full-blown war in October 1956, Chairman Mao supported Egypt's bid to take back control of the Suez Canal and praised President Nasser as a national hero. Premier Zhou Enlai sent a cable to President Nasser, telling him that China would do everything it could to support the heroic cause of the Egyptian government and people.

President Nasser expressed his sincere gratitude in a cable to Premier Zhou Enlai, saying that his letter had touched the Egyptian people, himself included, and that China's support had reinforced their confidence. It is this friendship that led Egypt to vote in favor of the People's Republic of China's restoration of its lawful rights in the United Nations in 1971.

As the wheels of history roll forward, the Sino-Egyptian friendship - low in its 63rd year - is stronger than ever. In 2014, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi paid his first visit to China, during which the leaders of both countries decided to upgrade ties to the level of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. In January 2016, President Xi Jinping paid a historic visit to Egypt during which the two countries jointly issued the Five-Year Implementation Guideline for Enhancing Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Also, Egypt has accelerated implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative. Up until now, President Sisi has paid six visits to China and met with President Xi nine times. Frequent exchanges between the heads of state have taken bilateral ties to a higher level, with President Sisi praising Sino-Egyptian relations as a role model for state-to-state relationship.

This year has been a specially fruitful year for Sino-Egyptian relations. In April, at the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, President Xi met with President Sisi. In June, President Xi met with President Sisi again in China-African Leaders Meeting during the G20 Summit which charted the course of Sino-African cooperation. In late June, Egypt was the guest of honor at the First China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo in Hunan province, impressing the Chinese people with its culture and products.

As one of the first countries to respond to and participate in the Belt and Road Initiative, Egypt has been working on aligning its Vision 2030 with the Belt and Road Initiative in terms of strategy, planning and implementation mechanisms. With these synergies, Egypt has been galvanizing large-scale infrastructure projects such as upgrading its electricity grid, creating a central business district in the New Administrative Capital, building an interurban light rail line linking Cairo with 10th of Ramadan City and setting up important investment and industry cooperation platforms such as the China-Egypt TEDA Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone.

Sino-Egyptian cooperation under the Initiative has set an example for other African countries. Currently, China has invested nearly $7 billion in Egypt, creating approximately 30,000 jobs. As the Egyptian economy grows and its social reforms deepen, the largest economy of the Arab world with 100 million people will see renewed momentum in investment and business. Statistics show that China is already among the 10 biggest sources of foreign direct investment in Egypt and one of the top 10 source countries for inbound tourists, with over 500,000 Chinese visitors to Egypt in 2018 alone.

Looking ahead, the future of Sino-Egyptian cooperation is even brighter. This year marks the sixth year of the Belt and Road Initiative's introduction. Despite some countries trying to scuttle Belt and Road cooperation by spreading rumors and planting obstacles, the facts speak louder than words.

The numerous achievements of Sino-Egyptian cooperation in the Belt and Road Initiative show that there are no political strings attached and no financial risks; rather, it aims at unleashing the economic potential of our cooperation partners to achieve shared development. The Initiative is all about peaceful cooperation and mutual learning for shared benefit in an open and tolerant environment.

In the future, China and Egypt can complement each other's advantages and foster synergy to fully unleash the enormous potential for cooperation in numerous areas including investment, trade, energy, power generation, railway transportation, port logistics, aerospace, and etc.

At the same time, we should strengthen strategic cooperation and policy coordination. We should build on people-to-people exchanges. In this way, we can achieve even more with our newly minted Comprehensive Strategic Partnership within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Looking ahead, it is hoped that the Chinese and Egyptian people will march hand in hand into the future, that the Chinese Dream and Egyptian people's aspirations can support and reinforce each other, and that our friendship will continue to grow and thrive, thanks to the initiative of our leaders and the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative projects which benefit our peoples and set shining examples of cooperation to build a community with a shared future with countries around the world.

The author is ambassador to Egypt and representative to the League of Arab States. 

(China Daily Global 09/26/2019 page13)

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