Business / Hangzhou G20

Egypt eyes bigger role in Belt and Road initiative at G20 summit: MENA chief

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-08-27 13:17

CAIRO - The G20 summit in China with Egypt's participation as a guest of honor represents an opportunity to further boost Egyptian-Chinese economic partnership, Alaa Haider, editor-in-chief of Egypt's official MENA news agency, told Xinhua in an interview.

Chinese President Xi Jinping invited his Egyptian counterpart Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi to attend the summit that will be held in eastern China's Hangzhou city on Sept. 4-5, gathering the leaders of the world's largest economies.

"The G20 summit is significant for China and the whole world, as it is held this year under the theme of stimulating and urging world trade, which has declined over the past two years since the last G20 summit in 2014," said Haider, adding that China sees Egypt as a key player in the turmoil-stricken Middle East region.

Egypt is currently working on the necessary infrastructure for the development of its Suez Canal corridor after the recent expansion of the vital waterway, while China is working on the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013.

The main idea of the initiative is to revive ancient trade routes to link China with over 60 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe through the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road.

"The Suez Canal corridor development project is planned to turn the area into a logistic, industrial, agricultural, service, touristic and also technological region. There should be a complimentary project to optimize the Suez Canal corridor development project, and this can be China's Silk Road," MENA chief told Xinhua.

"Egypt was the main portal of the Middle East part of the Silk Road in the region's trade with China," he added, stressing that China also seeks future cooperation between the Silk Road and the Suez Canal.

President Sisi visited China twice since he came to office and President Xi also paid a very important visit to Egypt in January, and both leaders agreed to elevate the level of their ties to "comprehensive strategic partnership."

The Egyptian editor-in-chief said that Sisi's upcoming visit to China is also meant to continue what he agreed upon with Xi, which is the integration between the Silk Road and the Suez Canal corridor as a common interest between Egypt and China.

During his first state visit to Egypt, President Xi made an important speech at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo where he emphasized "development" as the key to resolve most Middle East problems, especially growing terrorism and other conflicts.

"China cares about maintaining development all over the world, which is in favor of all. China does not restrict its trade exchange to the United States, Europe and Southeast Asia, but it pays great interest in Africa and the Arab world, and Egypt is both an African and Arab country. So, China's care about Africa and the Arab states is also in favor of Egypt," Haider explained.

He added that the world stability is in favor of China's interest as the world's most populous country seeks to implement its Silk Road revival initiative and to utilize its large infrastructures that are suitable for all kinds of local and foreign industries and investments.

"As a large economic power - or the world's factory - China sees that world economy needs stimulation, which is in favor of Egypt in the first place, as recession in world trade causes recession in the traffic at Egypt's vital waterway," Haider said.

He stressed that Egypt and China have distinguished historical ties without any history of colonial ambitions and so Egypt and Arab states in general look at China as "one of the most important powers that rose over the past 20 years to make a balance with the United States after the fall of the Soviet Union."

According to Haider, Egypt as a non-permanent two-year Security Council member can make use of its G20 participation to defend the Arab and African causes and shed light on the Palestinian cause, "which has been idle since terrorism overwhelmed the world."

He argued that Israel get abnormal support from the United States and that the Middle East's instability and chaos is supported by Western powers only to serve the interests of Israel.

In modern history, most Arab and African states supported the independence of China and Egypt was the first among them to recognize China and establish diplomatic relations with Beijing in 1956.

"This year, we celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations with China, whose comprehensive strategic partnership with Egypt gives the Arab country a great advantage and priority in economic cooperation with China," Haider told Xinhua, noting there are large Chinese investments in Egypt but they are required to increase in the coming stage.

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