by Mahmoud Fouly
CAIRO, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese miraculous economic and social development over the past seven decades "inspired me to compile my book '70 Years of Miracles' to be released" while China is marking the 70th anniversary of its establishment, Egyptian columnist and writer Kamal Gaballa told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Gaballa said that the idea of the book was crystallized in his mind 22 years ago, when he first visited China, but it was composed in one year during which he wrote a series of columns for Egypt's state-run Al-Ahram news website about China and its development.
"I have been following the changes taking place in China since 1997, when I was sent by Egypt's state-run Al-Ahram newspaper to China as the only Egyptian journalist to cover the 'event of the century' back then, which was the return of Hong Kong to China," said the Egyptian writer.
Gaballa, also member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, pointed out that his 150-page book is based on his own personal experiences, observations and communications in China.
"I visited China many times and I could observe its gradual development on the ground, which I conveyed to the readers of Al-Ahram newspaper and Arab readers in general," the writer told Xinhua.
He explained that the China-related articles he wrote for Al-Ahram were enough material to compile them in a book and to widen the base of readers from Al-Ahram readers to all Arabs.
"I saw dramatic changes in China every time I visited the country. There was something new each time. These dramatic changes pushed me to read and learn more about China, follow up its news and events and update my information about it," he added.
Gaballa has divided the book into two chapters, including one particularly about the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, which seeks 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.
Gaballa stated in the book that the BRI was swiftly turned from a Chinese idea into a strategy joined by tens of states and world organizations walking side by side with China along the road to build a new, impressive world of shared interests.
"I consider the BRI one of the miracles of the century and the miracles of China," he said, adding that China's poverty alleviation and the modernization of its cities compared with what he saw in the past "are all miracles."
Gaballa described the Egyptian-Chinese relations as "historical," expecting further growing political, economic, commercial and cultural interactions between the two sides.
He stressed that the Chinese experience is very rich to learn from, highlighting great potentials for Egyptian-Chinese economic cooperation and hailing current Chinese projects in Egypt, including those of China's TEDA economic zone in Suez province.
"I can also see a Chinese miracle in building a huge Central Business District in Egypt's new administrative capital city, which shows that China will not miss an opportunity to share with Egyptians their social and economic development," the Egyptian writer told Xinhua.
Nearly half a million Chinese tourists visited Egypt in 2018 compared with 300,000 in 2017, according to Chinese Cultural Counselor to Egypt Shi Yuewen, head of the Chinese Cultural Center in Cairo.
Gaballa wrote in the book that "visiting Egypt is the dream of every Chinese child," quoting a former Chinese ambassador to Cairo.
He underscored the need to promote Chinese tourism in Egypt to increase the number and make up for the deterioration that hit the sector since the 2011 uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak.
The book's cover is all red with five yellow stars in the shape of China's flag.
Gaballa said there was an interesting story behind choosing the cover, noting that his wife, a librarian with a good taste for book shapes, was the one who chose it after their lengthy deliberation.
"If you notice, the book title doesn't have 'China'. But the book cover portrays China's flag to symbolize China that is missing in the title," he explained.
"When the title reads '70 Years of Miracles', the reader will instantly think of China, due to what the cover suggests and because China is the only nation that managed to achieve such a miraculous development in such a short time," the author told Xinhua.