by Ahmed Shafiq, Abdel Meguid Kamal
CAIRO, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- The comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Egypt have witnessed an unprecedented push in 2018.
FREQUENT EXCHANGE OF VISITS
In September, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi visited China for the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), his fifth visit to the country since assuming office in 2014.
Ahead of the FOCAC meetings, Sisi held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping during which both leaders agreed to jointly advance the China-Egypt comprehensive strategic partnership in the new era.
During the meeting, Xi stressed that China highly values developing the comprehensive strategic partnership with Egypt, pledging to continue to support Egypt in its efforts to maintain stability, develop economy and improve people's livelihood, as well as pursue a development path in line with its national conditions, and play a bigger role in international and regional affairs.
During the September visit, Sisi also met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
Noting that Egypt and China maintain traditional friendship and a high level of mutual trust as well as close coordination with each other on major international issues, Sisi stressed that Egypt places a high priority on the comprehensive strategic partnership with China.
As one of the first countries that support the Belt and Road Initiative, Egypt firmly believes that the initiative will create enormous opportunities for their bilateral cooperation as well as international and regional cooperation, he said.
The president said Egypt will continue to support and participate in the Belt and Road Initiative and, as the incoming holder of the African Union rotating presidency, it will also continue to promote cooperation between Africa and China.
Sisi welcomed the increase of investment by Chinese enterprises in Egypt, calling for efforts to make good use of Egypt's advantages in geographical location and the Suez Canal industrial park to jointly explore European, Middle East and African markets.
During his stay in China, Sisi witnessed the signing of bilateral cooperation documents.
Among the deals were the construction of a pumping and storage station in the Mount Ataka area in Northeast Egypt, a coal-fired power station in Hamrawein on the Red Sea coast and the second phase of central business district in the new administrative capital.
The signings also included building a textile industrial project, a refinery and a petrochemicals complex in the Suez Canal corridor area.
In October, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan visited Cairo at the invitation of Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly.
During his two-day visit, Wang met with Sisi and Madbouly. The two sides agreed to further boost cooperation between the two countries.
Wang and Madbouly witnessed the signing of cooperation documents in fields such as agriculture, education and culture.
In November, Madbouly visited China to attend the opening ceremony of the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai.
Addressing the opening ceremony of the exhibition, Madbouly said that Egypt is enthusiastic about boosting cooperation between the two countries on bilateral and regional levels in various fields.
He added that Egypt's participation shows its appreciation of the Chinese efforts to enhance fair trade between the two countries.
Madbouly noted that about 1,080 Chinese companies are operating in Egypt in various sectors, notably industry, information technology and economic zones.
Egypt's pavilion in the exhibition included such sectors as agriculture, food industry, textile, handicrafts, engineering and finance.
Meanwhile, China-Egypt bilateral trade volume grew 26.7 percent year-on-year in January-August to reach 8.83 billion dollars, according to China's State Administration of Taxation.
Statistics from the administration show that China's exports to Egypt reached 7.61 billion dollars in the first eight months of 2018, while its imports from Egypt totalled 1.22 billion dollars.
In 2018, Chinese companies participated in an array of Egyptian exhibitions, such as the Cairo International Book Fair, the first international exhibition of military industries (EDEX 2018), the Cairo International Motor Show (AUTOMIC FORMULA) and the Egyptian-Chinese Trade and Investment Exhibition.
Egypt has also signed a number of agreements with Chinese companies. In March 2018, the Egyptian government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China State Construction Engineering Co. on designing and constructing three closed gymnasiums in Sharm al-Sheikh, Hurghada and Luxor in preparation for hosting the 2021 World Men's Handball Championship.
In May, Egypt's New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Chinese construction company CGCOC Group to establish the first industrial zone in the city of New Alamein.
Earlier this month, Chairman of Egypt's Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI) Abdel Moneim al-Taras announced that he agreed with Chairman of China Railway 20 Bureau Group Corporation (CR20G) Deng Yong to establish an industrial facility to manufacture monorails and express trains.
Also in December, Commander of Egyptian Air Forces, Mohamed Abbas, signed an agreement during EDEX 2018 exhibition in Cairo to purchase drones from China's National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC).
China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) started in August the main phase of the construction of a new terminal basin in Sokhna Port south of the Suez Canal northeast of Egypt, while the National Bank of Egypt (NBE) signed in September a loan agreement of 600 million dollars with China Development Bank (CDB) in the Chinese capital of Beijing.
Cooperation between Egypt and China was extended to the cultural field as the first-ever Chinese archaeological team started excavation works in the Montu Temple in Upper Egypt's Luxor. Egyptian and Chinese media officials celebrated in November the broadcast of a dubbed Arabic version of Chinese popular TV series "Ode to Joy" on Egyptian state TV channel.
Egypt's former ambassador to Beijing, Mahmoud Allam, told Xinhua that the Egypt-China relations witnessed a "strong momentum in building strategic partnership" this year.
"The exchange of visits between officials of the two countries during 2018 perpetuates the keenness of the political leadership in Egypt and China to communicate at all levels and discuss issues of common concern," he said.
The former diplomat praised highly Chinese cooperation in development projects across Egypt and the diversity of Chinese investments in the country.
"Egypt is currently witnessing an economic breakthrough, and China has great experience and resources that Cairo can benefit from," Allam said.