Q3. What will be the priority areas of China’s investment in Egypt?
Wang Yi: Recent years have seen growing investment cooperation between our two countries as we deepen the Belt and Road cooperation and forge an effective synergy between our development strategies. To date, Chinese companies have made over US$7 billion of investment in Egypt, registered 1,560-plus local firms and created more than 30,000 local jobs in energy, infrastructure, manufacturing, agriculture and mining.
Building on this solid basis, China will scale up its investment in more areas in light of Egypt’s actual needs to pursue mutual benefit and win-win results. President Al-Sisi said at the opening of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation last April that Belt and Road development dovetails with the priority areas outlined in the Egypt’s Vision 2030, and that Belt and Road development is very much aligned with Egypt’s direction of development. Going forward, China will continue to tilt its investment toward Egypt’s priority areas. And technology-intensive emerging sectors such as new energy, electric cars, aerospace and telecommunications are expected to be the new drivers of our bilateral cooperation. This will lend new impetus to our cooperation under the Belt and Road framework.
Q4. Have Chinese entrepreneurs or companies encountered any obstacles or problems in Egypt? If yes, have they held back Chinese investment in Egypt? And what are the obstacles and problems?
Wang Yi: An enabling business environment is widely seen as essential for attracting business investment. For China and Egypt, the good relationship and strong friendship between the two governments and between the two peoples, are our natural strength in fostering a sound business environment. Against this backdrop, we have been working together to bolster our investment cooperation. China has encouraged its companies to invest and do business in Egypt, and asked them to abide by local laws and regulations and fulfill due social responsibilities. Egypt, on its part, has made active efforts in improving its business climate in recent years, including introducing the new investment law, and other regulations and policy incentives. Thanks to our joint efforts, Chinese companies now enjoy an ever-improving business environment and feel more confident about investing in Egypt.
I should point out here that for some time, certain countries have been smearing and spreading rumors about Chinese investment overseas, especially investment in Africa. They use various means to disrupt China’s cooperation with African countries. Such practices against China have no factual basis and are driven by ill intentions. China firmly opposes such moves and they are bound to be rejected by the African countries too. To our encouragement, these contemptible moves do not work in Egypt, as the Egyptian government and people truly welcome Chinese investment, truly appreciate the technologies and jobs such investment brings, and truly expect China-Egypt practical cooperation to contribute more to Egypt’s development. This fair and positive position of Egypt is highly meaningful in boosting Chinese firms’ confidence in the Egyptian market.
Q5. Last year saw a surge of Chinese tourists to Egypt who made 500,000 visits. That said, given the fact that China is the world’s largest source of overseas tourists, this figure still looks rather moderate, especially when compared with the number of Chinese tourists visiting the ROK or some other countries. What are your thoughts on increasing Chinese tourists to Egypt and what plan on the Egyptian side are you aware of?
Wang Yi: Egypt is a major tourist destination with rich tourism resources. Tourism is one of Egypt’s pillar industries and tourism cooperation is also an important part of China-Egypt practical cooperation. As you rightly noted, recent years have seen a steady increase of the Chinese tourists traveling overseas, not only to China’s neighboring countries but also to distant destinations with exotic attractions. And Egypt is one of such places. In the past three years, the number of Chinese tourists to Egypt has been growing at over 30% on average annually. This remarkable speed is far higher than the overall growth of overseas trips by Chinese tourists, and reflects the huge potential of our tourism cooperation. China will continue to encourage Chinese tourists to visit Egypt. We also hope that Egypt will further tap the Chinese market, enhance safety protection for tourists and provide them with convenience. We welcome Egyptian authorities and companies to stage tourism promotions in China. The relevant departments of our two sides may discuss the possibility of holding Year of Tourism activities in each other’s countries to further invigorate our tourism cooperation and attract more Chinese tourists to Egypt.
Q6. The United Nations and its Security Council, and other international platforms have engaged in sustained cooperation and consultation on many international issues. How does China see President Al-Sisi’s recent proposal on the Security Council reform?
Wang Yi: China and Egypt are both major developing countries, and we share broad-based common interests in promoting greater democracy in international relations and in the reform of the global governance system. Our two countries have all along enjoyed sound cooperation at international platforms such as the UN, especially its Security Council. We have been working together to uphold multilateralism, safeguard the UN-centered international system and promote the common interests of developing countries. On the Security Council reform, President Al-Sisi has stressed on many occasions the imperative to redress the historical injustices done to Africa. China fully supports this proposition, and has all along believed that the only right direction of the Security Council reform is to increase the representation and voice of developing countries, especially African countries. China is ready to work with Egypt and other African friends at the Inter-governmental Negotiations and other fora to move the reform steadily forward in a direction that serves the common interests of all developing countries.