Cairo: Chinese President Xi Jinping is due in Egypt on Wednesday, marking the first visit by a Chinese head of state to the country in 12 years as Cairo-Beijing ties have grown in recent months.
During the two-day visit, Xi will meet Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi for talks on boosting cooperation and exploring the regional scene, Egyptian officials said.
Al Sissi has visited China twice since he took office in 2014. During Xi’s trip to Egypt, officials from the two countries will sign more than 50 cooperation pacts covering transport, electricity, agriculture, education and culture. Egypt is seeking fresh Chinese investment in its infrastructure projects.
Under the $10 billion (Dh36.73 billion) accords, China will participate in building a new Egyptian administrative capital near Cairo and rail routes, upgrade a major harbour in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and establish energy facilities, including two coal-fired power stations. Egypt has suffered from an acute energy shortage in recent years.
In an article published in Egypt’s semi-official newspaper on Tuesday, Xi said that his country sees relations with Cairo from a “long-term strategic perspective” and as a barometer of its ties with the Arab world.
He added that he will discuss with Al Sissi ways of developing “strategic ties”.
Xi’s trip to Egypt marks the 60th anniversary of establishing diplomatic links between the two countries.
He will be accompanied by a high-profile business delegation as trade exchange between Egypt and China has reached $9 billion annually, according to Egyptian figures. The visit is part of a regional tour also taking the Chinese leader to Saudi Arabia and Iran.
“President Al Sissi realises the importance of China. Therefore, he visited it twice,” said Mohammad No’man, an Egyptian ex-ambassador in Beijing.
“China has become a super country, which is not less advanced than any Western country in several fields. Egypt has to come up with well-studied and realistic proposals so that the Chinese [investors] will make a swift response.”
Egypt is working hard to rejuvenate its economy battered by political turmoil that hit the country following the 2011 uprising that forced long-time president Hosni Mubarak to step down.
Since assuming power, Al Sissi has launched a series of mega projects, including a multi-billion-dollar scheme in the Suez Canal zone aimed at turning Egypt into a global trade and logistics hub.
Al Sissi visited China in December 2014 and September last year as part of his efforts to diversify Egypt’s relations other than its traditional ones with the West, mainly the US.