Q1. Welcome to Egypt. Could you share with us the purpose of your visit? What will be the focus of your discussions with Egyptian leaders?
Wang Yi: I am delighted to pay a visit to Egypt at the start of the new year. This is the first stop of my first overseas trip in 2020. Both China and Egypt are ancient civilizations and we enjoy a time-honored friendship. Egypt is the first Arab and African country to establish diplomatic relations with New China. Over the 60-plus years of the diplomatic relationship, the peoples of our two countries have always rendered each other understanding, trust and support. The China-Egypt relationship has stood the test of the shifting international landscape and set a fine example of relations between developing countries.
China highly values its traditional friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation with the brotherly country of Egypt. In the past few years, President Xi Jinping and President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi had multiple meetings and reached important common understanding on a wide range of issues. Together, they have charted the course for the further growth of our bilateral relationship and cooperation. With the shared commitment and strong guidance of the two Presidents, we have established and grown a comprehensive strategic partnership. Our two countries now enjoy solid mutual political trust, fruitful practical cooperation, productive cultural exchanges and a close bond of friendship between the two peoples.
I am visiting Egypt to follow through on the important agreement reached by our Presidents in an effort to bring the China-Egypt comprehensive strategic partnership to a higher level. During the visit, I will call on President Al-Sisi and hold with Foreign Minister Shoukry a new round of strategic dialogue between the two Foreign Ministries. I look forward to an in-depth exchange of views with the Egyptian side, focusing on pursuing all-round growth of the bilateral ties, greater synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and Egypt’s Vision 2030, stronger practical cooperation in various fields, and closer communication and coordination on regional and international affairs.
Q2. Will Egypt and China have more economic and trade cooperation in the new year, especially on the Suez Canal Corridor Development Project and the New Administrative Capital?
Wang Yi: Recent years have seen a boom in the economic cooperation and trade between China and Egypt, which has brought tangible benefits to the peoples of both countries. Despite the complex and fluid international trade environment, trade between our two countries crossed, for the first time, the US$10 billion mark in 2013, and has since stayed on an upward trajectory. It reached US$13.8 billion in 2018, and China is now Egypt’s largest trading partner.
China is committed to the opening-up policy and wishes to work with all other countries to build an open and inclusive world economy driven by innovation. China has hosted the international import expo for two years running. Egypt was an active participant on both occasions. And it was the guest of honor country at the first expo. In the face of the current situation, China and Egypt are both unequivocal in opposing trade protectionism, firm in safeguarding the multilateral trading regime, and resolute in upholding free trade with concrete actions.
Our commercial cooperation is far more than trade. We are also making steady progress in cooperation in such areas as investment, industrial capacity, infrastructure and financial services. The Chinese government encourages Chinese companies in taking an active part in Egypt’s strategic projects to support the Egyptian economy, including the two major strategic projects, namely, the Suez Canal Corridor Development Project and the New Administrative Capital. As a matter of fact, the China-Egypt Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone is located right in the Suez Canal Economic Zone, and the development priorities and management model of the cooperation zone are highly compatible with the strategy of the Suez Canal Corridor Development Project. The over 60 companies in the cooperation zone have created a great number of local jobs and helped raise Egypt’s industrial manufacturing capacity. They export many of their products to Europe and other parts of Africa. They are now a source of foreign currency revenues, and serve to bring out Egypt’s geographical advantage as a link between Asia, Africa and Europe.
The CBD project of the New Administrative Capital undertaken by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) has been widely acclaimed in Egypt for both construction and technical prowess. Moreover, the CSCEC contracted with many local companies, hired local employees and sourced local raw materials, all contributing to enhancing Egypt’s overall engineering capacity. In addition, our cooperation projects in electricity, transportation and other areas that concern people’s lives, including the EETC power transmission project, the 10th of Ramadan City railway project and the Benban Solar Park, are either already up and running or making solid progress.
I am confident that with the deepening of our economic and trade cooperation, more and more Chinese companies will get involved in Egypt’s economic development and contribute their part to Egypt’s national development and rejuvenation.