The three-day China Trade Fair Egypt wrapped up its activities on Monday. About 400 Chinese companies participated in the fair to discuss boosting future cooperation with Egyptian counterparts and the possibility of drafting joint deals.
The fair was inaugurated by the Chinese ambassador to Egypt, Liao Liqiang, accompanied by representatives of the Cairo Chamber of Commerce and Egypt-China Trade Center.
The fair introduces diversified products in different fields, including building materials, automobile spare parts and components, electronics, communication systems, home appliances, medical equipment, agricultural products, and others.
The total Chinese investments in Egypt exceeded $7bn, providing about 30,000 direct job opportunities to Egyptians, “We plan to increase our investments in the local market [Egypt] to $15bn,” he added.
The trade exchange between China and Egypt hit $13.87bn in 2018, marking an annual increase of 27.06%, the ambassador noted. In the first half (1H) of 2019, the trade exchange hiked by 4.6% to $6.5bn, according to a previous statement by the ambassador during a press conference last week. Liqiang added that Chinese exports and imports reached $4.6trn in 2018, while Chinese FDIs to other countries stood at $130bn in the same year.
Egypt is achieving remarkable economic results under Al-Sisi leadership
Under the leadership of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, Egypt is implementing the economic reform programme which has contributed to achieving remarkable results, “I am pleased to note that Egypt’s economic growth rate has increased from 4.4% in 2014 to 5.6% in 2018,” Liqiang added.
Egypt is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, the ambassador stressed, adding that Egypt’s foreign exchange reserves exceeded $44.96bn, while the unemployment rate dropped to 8.1% in the first quarter (1Q) of 2019.
“I congratulate the government and the people of Egypt on these successes,” he mentioned. He noted that the Egyptian government is working very hard in improving Egyptians’ standard of living, increasing employment, boosting technical and vocational training, protecting the environment, and attracting investments for education and health care.
The link between China’s Belt and Road initiative and Egypt Vision 2030 represents the basis of practical cooperation between both countries, the ambassador said, asserting that in recent years, Egypt has made great economic and social achievements.
China looks to further strengthening its cooperation with Egypt in all fields, which already has unlimited potential, Liqiang said.
China’s cooperation with Africa
China is eager to boost cooperation with Africa, particularly in Egypt, through relating the Belt and Road initiative with Egypt Vision 2030 and other African developmental strategies, according to a document sent by the Chinese embassy to Daily News Egypt.
As of July 2019, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) was activated, opening the door for creating the biggest free trade zone in the world, and creating a major market including 1.2 billion people with $2.5trn in GDPs, the ambassador mentioned.
“As a friend and close partner to Africa, we would like to send our congratulations to Africa on the occasion of implementing this agreement as a great accomplishment,” the ambassador said.
Liqiang asserted that China is Africa’s main trade partner over the past 10 years, adding that the new agreement will open new horizons for better cooperation between both sides.
“We believe that the new agreement will play an important role in promoting trade exchange between African countries, and their preferential policies will attract more Chinese investment to the continent as well,” the ambassador said.
Under the auspices of the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, both countries have conducted fruitful cooperation in various fields and has set an example for China-Africa cooperation, the ambassador mentioned.
On the sidelines of the G20 Osaka Summit held in June 2019, the Chinese president headed the China-Africa mini-summit attended by Al-Sisi and other African leaders, the ambassador said. The two sides reached a common vision of the need to protect pluralism, free trade, achieve equality, and international justice.
China is committed to equality of religions
The Chinese people enjoy freedom of religions and beliefs protected by law, the ambassador asserted, noting that his country is committed to the full equality of religions.
The establishment of Vocational Education and Training Centre in Xinjiang is one of the most important steps taken by the Chinese government to combat terrorism and protect human rights, the ambassador noted.
“Xinjiang has not experienced violence for three consecutive years, demonstrating the active role of the centre in protecting the human rights of various groups in Xinjiang,” the ambassador noted.
There are more than 20 million Muslims in China, who are an integral part of the Chinese nation and make great contributions to promoting China’s economic, social, and cultural development in the modern era, the ambassador asserted.
There are 24,400 mosques in Xinjiang which is more than double the mosques in the United States, Britain, Germany, and France, Liqiang said, adding that each 530 Chinese Muslims have a mosque.
Meanwhile, permanent delegates of over 50 countries, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to the UN sent a joint letter to the UN Human Rights Council and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in July 2019, praising the tremendous achievements made by China’s Xinjiang in combating terrorism and protecting human rights.
“Ambassador Alaa Youssef, Egypt’s permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, paid a field visit to the Vocational Education and Training Center in Xinjiang in February 2019, where he said that what he has seen and heard in Xinjiang is in stark contrast to what some media agencies have reported against Xinjiang,” said the Chinese ambassador.
The ambassador continued that Youssef also praised the Chinese government’s efforts to combat terrorism, protect freedom of belief, and respect traditions of minorities.
“Chinese provenience affairs are an internal matter, and no foreign country has the right to interfere. Some US officials ignored this fact and made irresponsible remarks about China’s Xinjiang under the guise of human rights, and we fully reject these remarks,” Liqiang stressed.
The issues of Xinjiang are not national, religious, or human rights issues, but they are related to countering separatism, terrorism, and extremism, the ambassador explained.
“We urge the US to respect this fact and stop interfering in the internal affairs of other countries under the pretext of human rights,” the ambassador concluded.