Chinese Ambassador to Egypt Liao Liqiang receives an interview with Xinhua in Cairo, capital of Egypt, Sept. 16, 2019. The China-Egypt pragmatic cooperation has borne rich fruits since the bilateral ties were upgraded to a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2014, Chinese Ambassador to Egypt Liao Liqiang said. (Xinhua/Wu Huiwo)
CAIRO, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- The China-Egypt pragmatic cooperation has borne rich fruits since the bilateral ties were upgraded to a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2014, Chinese Ambassador to Egypt Liao Liqiang said.
"The two countries are achieving leap-forward development of pragmatic cooperation either in width or depth," Liao told Xinhua in a recent interview.
China is now the biggest trade partner of Egypt, and tops other foreign investors in terms of the growth rate of investment in the Arab country, the Chinese envoy noted.
The trade exchange between China and Egypt hit a record high of 13.87 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, while Egyptian exports to China rose to 1.8 billion dollars for the first time, according to official statistics.
Liao, who assumed office in June, has so far held meetings with more than 20 Egyptian officials at deputy ministerial level and above. He said he was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and strong will of the Egyptian officials to boost the ties with China and learn from China's experiences in achieving great successes in national development.
"For the three months since assuming office in Egypt, what impressed me the most is that there exists vast potentials for advancing the China-Egypt ties," the ambassador said.
Liao attributed the rapid development of the China-Egypt ties to the guidance and great efforts made by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who maintain close contact through regular meetings.
The latest Xi-Sisi meeting was held in late June within the framework of the China-Africa leaders' meeting held on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan. So far, President Sisi has held nine meetings with President Xi, and has paid six visits to China, which is his most-visited foreign country since assuming office in 2014.
Also in June, Egyptian Speaker of House of Representatives Ali Abdel-Aal visited China, the first such visit in 12 years, Liao mentioned.
Cultural, military and scientific exchanges between China and Egypt have also picked up the pace in the past five years, bringing the two nations much closer, the ambassador said.
On Sept. 8, Egypt and China announced the start of the implementation phase of the China-funded MisrSat II satellite project. The first Chinese-Egyptian Renewable Energy Laboratory produced the first Egyptian-made photovoltaic solar panel, while the navies of the two countries held a joint training drill recently.
A total of 364 Egyptian students have gone to China to study for the 2019/2020 academic year, funded by Chinese government scholarships.
Liao noted that Egypt highly endorses China's road and concepts of development, as it faces a familiar situation like China did at the beginning of its opening up, including deepening the reforms, developing economic zones and actively attracting foreign investments.
Egypt is also making great efforts to fit its development plan with China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which was proposed by China to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with the Middle East, Africa and Europe along the ancient trade routes of the Silk Road.
"President Sisi has said that Egypt, which was among the first group of countries to express support to the BRI, is a natural partner of the BR construction. This is the strategic choice that Egypt has made to seek stability, development and national rejuvenation following the regional turmoil that swept through the Middle East and North Africa," the Chinese envoy said.
Liao touted the huge benefits of the fruitful China-Egypt cooperation, which has helped boost not only Egypt's economic development, but also the bilateral friendly ties.
There are currently more than 1,600 China-funded enterprises operating in Egypt, with a total investment of about 7 billion dollars, creating about 30,000 jobs for Egyptians, he said.
China and Egypt have also achieved great progress in the area of financial cooperation. At present, Chinese financial institutions have signed various credit and loan contracts worth more than 7 billion dollars, and the internationalization of yuan, the Chinese currency, is progressing smoothly.
Chinese companies are actively participating in the construction of major state-funded strategic infrastructure projects in Egypt, such as the Suez Canal Economic Zone, the new administrative capital, national power grid, and major transport projects.
Driven by the growing China-Egypt ties, the enthusiasm for learning Chinese language and culture has been on the rise among Egyptians, Liao said, citing that more than 2,000 Egyptian students are now specializing in Chinese language studies.
There are currently 16 universities in Egypt that offer Chinese language courses, in addition to two Confucius Institutes, two independent Confucius Classrooms, and the Chinese Cultural Center in Cairo.
"Under the personal attention and guidance by the leaders of the two countries and with the concerted efforts made by people from all walks of life on both sides, I am fully confident about the realization of better and faster development of the China-Egypt relations in the new era," the Chinese ambassador said.