Sisi’s visit to China was based on stimulating investors
Ahmed MokhtarEgypt’s President Abdul Fattah Al Sisi visited China. Going East was not meant to convey negative messages regarding Egyptian relations with the West or the United States of America, but it reveals that Egypt is moving according to an economy-driven vision, which is the basis for political stability, unlike some views that believe economy and politics are two sides of a coin.
Regardless of agreement or disagreement, the reality of the Egyptian state makes economy a compass to its political moves, taking into account the last four years during which the Egyptian people lived through numerous political events that made every Egyptian talk about politics more than anything else. Political events went so deep that it made one of the main objectives of the 25th of January Revolution in 2011, which is “bread, freedom and social justice” hides away for a long time before the Egyptian families felt the pinch of unemployment and the increases in prices of basic commodities and products. Today, the majority of people feel that the political leadership is focusing on improving economic conditions as a main priority.
As the years passed and the Egyptian economy embroiled in a tough crisis, it became necessary that officials must prioritise the economy file, and so they depended on the Arab brothers, especially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to pass the bottleneck with regard to execute main projects directly related to important products and services like healthcare, education and petroleum products.
This is in addition to arrangements being undertaken to prepare the Egyptian economy for a strong kick start after Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz has called for the Egyptian economic summit in Sharm Al Sheikh next March, along with the major role of the UAE in setting the agenda of this summit and promoting it in the best way possible that would help achieve its goals. This has coincided with foreign tours by Egyptian officials to many countries in Africa, Europe and, recently, China in the Far East.
Choosing China as the first destination in the Egyptian move towards the Far East reflects a determination on fixing the mistake of relying on the West, which is currently suffering from economic hardships and unstable political stances. Additionally, economic evidences suggest that the giant Chinese economy is on its way to the top world economy spot within a few years.
Al Sisi’s visit to China was based on stimulating investors and the biggest Chinese companies to invest in Egypt instead of granting Egypt financial assistance, to be more like a strategic partnership. Through signing 16 agreements, the two sides agreed on implementing major projects such as a monorail to link cities and industrial areas by modern and fast means of transportation, developing the electricity sector and rehabilitating Egypt’s roads and the railway network. Such projects are unattractive to investors, and require funding that the Egyptian government cannot afford at the moment.
Moreover, the Egyptian visit targeted stimulating China to encourage its citizens to visit Egypt’s tourist destinations, and give preference to Egyptian products entering Chinese markets, especially agricultural products. Other important objectives of the visit included preparing for a Chinese participation in the Egyptian Economic Summit, given that the date of the summit will not be inconsistent with the Chinese holidays. All of this will help the trade balance between the two countries, which is currently in favour of China to a great extent.
In support of the Egyptian move towards the East, a visit to Egypt by the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is scheduled I the next few days, and it is a much awaited visit by the Egyptians who await a Russian support for its economy, in a strong way that reflects the strong relations between the two countries. The apparent convergence with Russia include important signals to the USA that Egypt will not base its future on America, especially after the latter’s stances since the 30th of June Revolution, which were against the will of Egyptians.
Some might wonder why Sisi did not visit the Gulf States until now, but I believe that the political leaderships in Egypt and the Gulf are moving as one team with one fate and shared interests. That is why the visit to the Gulf States will be considered a celebration to the shared success in reaching reconciliation and making sure the Egyptian ship is sailing towards safety.