Xi Jinping

Paving the new Silk Road: China to fund infrastructure projects in Egypt

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 January, 2016, 2:52pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 January, 2016, 11:38pm

China has agreed to help fund big infrastructure projects in Egypt and assist in developing its fishing, agriculture, electronics and banking sectors.

The agreement came during President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) visit to the Middle Eastern nation this week .

READ MORE: Key facts behind China’s warming ties with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Egypt as Xi Jinping signs mega oil deals during his Middle East tour

The infrastructure projects include developing an industrial area in the Suez Canal corridor and will form part of Xi’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative to expand China’s trade and economic ties in Asia and beyond.

“Egypt needs Chinese companies to take part to provide investment, drive growth and create jobs,” said Li Guofu, at the China Institute of International Studies.

Military ties between the two nations are strengthening, with Egypt purchasing Chinese arms and both agreeing to cooperate on satellite and space projects.

They also agreed to work together to fight terrorism by enhancing intelligence exchanges and to cooperate in hunting suspects and sending them overseas to face questioning or trial.

The two sides also pledged to tackle internet crime.

China expressed support for Egypt and the Arab League to find political solutions to conflicts in the Palestinean territories, Syria, Libya and Yemen, but reiterated its principle of non-interference and that it would not take sides.

“Xi’s visit is mainly a gesture that China backs the Sisi administration, which is crucial for Sisi to stabilise the regime,” said Xiao Xian, head of Middle East studies at Yunnan University.

Egypt’s president Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi seized power in 2013 through a military coup, overthrowing the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood.

READ MORE: China’s president backs Egypt’s moves to maintain stability ahead of uprising anniversary

Sisi faces opposition at home as well as among Western nations.

He needs to find a strong supporter who is also a major international power, analysts say.

“He isn’t particularly popular in the US or Europe,” said Xiao. “To him, China is now much more important than the US.”