The Egyptian government said in a statement that it is preparing for visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to sign agreements to boast collaboration in electricity, transportation, and agriculture.
Bilateral trade volume between Egypt and China reached $12bn including $11bn imports from China to Egypt.
The Chinese president will start a five day visit to the Middle East starting Tuesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a Friday statement. During this visit, Xi will visit Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Iran.
Jinping’s visit to Saudi Arabia and Iran comes amid diplomatic tension between the two countries in the wake of the execution of the prominent Shi’a cleric Nimr Al-Nimr.
China depends on the Middle East to provide oil to its growing economy; however, it has never interfered with Middle Eastern politics, allowing other permanent UN Security Council members to address issues that have arisen.
Last week, Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Ming visited both Riyadh and Tehran and urged both countries to ease the hostilities in a rare Chinese diplomatic intervention in Middle Eastern issues. Ming addressed possible methods to resolve the current tensions and repeated his message in Tehran, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
In the past month, China hosted members from both the Syrian regime and the opposition to urge both sides to find a solution to the Syrian civil war.
China is considered to be a safeguarding force of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. It voted against UN resolutions aimed to address the Syrian crisis four times.
China published its first official Arab policy paper, claiming to “support Arab countries’ struggle to uphold sovereignty and territorial integrity, pursue and safeguard national interests, and combat external interference and aggression.” Within this framework, it emphasised its support for the Arab league in its effort to establish an independent Palestinian state.
According to this paper, China supports the establishment of a nuclear weapon-free and WMD-free zone in the Middle East. “China respects choices made by the Arab people and supports Arab states in exploring their own development paths suited to their national conditions,” the paper read.
Emanuele Scimia, a Foreign affairs analyst at South China Morning Post believes that China is trying to moderately change its non-interference policy in the Middle East and North Africa and shift to a more assertive engagement in the region.
According to Scimia, soft-power diplomacy alone will not be enough for China to realise its aims.
“The problem for Beijing is that diplomacy can hinge on trade and investment, but it must also be supported by military presence: something that China lacks at the moment”, Scimia told the Daily News Egypt.