Joint Symposium between ECFA and the Embassy of China in Cairo
On July 14, 2020, ECFA held a video-conference symposium with the Chinese ambassador in Cairo and members of the Embassy, at his request. On ECFA side, Ambassadors: Mounir Zahran, Ezzat Saad, Hisham Al-Zimaity, Ali El-Hefny and Osama El-Magdoub participated.
The meeting addressed the following in particular:
1- Both ECFA Chairman and Director raised the Chinese position on the Ethiopian Dam, as the file was brought up to the Security Council last June, expressing regret over the failure of the Chinese delegation to the Security Council to take into account the vital importance of the issue of Nile waters for Egypt and stressed that the Council in all its previous contacts with the Chinese side, urged it to give this matter the interest it deserves.
In this context, the Council expressed its hope that the Chinese position would be positive when the issue will be brought up again to the Security Council.
In his intervention, Chinese Ambassador Liao Liqiang addressed what he called the changing situation in the Middle East, the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic on the region’s economies, and the Chinese government’s efforts to help contain and mitigate the catastrophic effects of the pandemic. In this context, he presented the Chinese-Egyptian cooperation in combating Covid-19 since its outbreak until present, as well as the presidential contacts and mutual assistance in this regard. He added that:
This year marks the 64th anniversary of the establishment of relations between the two countries, and that Chinese companies operating in Egypt are keen to continue their work and production rates despite the circumstances of the pandemic, and that cultural exchange between the two countries has not stopped despite these circumstances.
The ambassador was keen to express gratitude to Egypt for its support to China in facing what he called Western accusations that it is the origin or cause of the Covid-19 pandemic, pointing out that it is a challenge to the entire humanity and not to a specific country.
The ambassador briefed ECFA on the developments in Hong Kong, referring to the national security law approved by Parliament on June 30, and affirming that the West seeks to politicize this issue. He expressed the Chinese government’s appreciation to Egypt for its support – among many other countries – of the Chinese position in this regard at the United Nations Human Rights Council.
He referred to the recent US sanctions on his country in connection with the situation of Muslims in the Xinjiang region, stressing that this is a blatant interference in internal affairs. He added that there are 20 million Muslims in China and that there are 24,000 mosques in Xinjiang alone. He thanked Egypt for its stance on this file as well.
Regarding the Ethiopian dam issue, the ambassador indicated that they are interested in this issue and that although China is an upstream country, it stands with Egypt as much as possible and encourages resolving differences via dialogue. Ambassador Ezzat Saad commented that Ethiopia has been procrastinating for an entire decade to impose a fait accompli. He added that Egypt resorted to the UN Security Council to preserve its rights against Ethiopia’s bad faith and the negativity showed by the friends of the parties to the dispute, stressing that the growing economic and trade interests of China in the Horn of Africa, East Africa and the Arab World allows it to play a positive political role to support and stabilize this region, which is situated at the heart of the Belt and Road Initiative.
The ambassador tackled his country’s relations with the United States, noting that Washington is trying to cover up its failure to manage the virus crisis by accusing China of causing the spread of the pandemic, which is unacceptable. He added that their Foreign Minister affirmed the need for China-U.S. cooperation and de-escalation of tensions between the two countries since their economies are the world’s strongest ones, in a manner that contributes to combating the pandemic.
2- On his part, Ambassador Osama El-Magdoub – former ambassador to China – indicated that Egypt has supported the Belt and Road Initiative considering that its objective is developmental, adding that the general principles underlying China’s foreign policy require it to convince Addis Ababa to adopt the voice of reason and take into account the interests of the two downstream countries, noting that the interventions of Ali El-Hefny and Hisham Al-Zimaiti went in the same vein.
Concluding his speech, the Chinese ambassador affirmed his country’s support for Egypt in various issues and their appreciation for Cairo’s stance on their issues. He added that he will inform Beijing of the Council’s requests regarding the importance of China playing a greater role in the Renaissance Dam issue, expressing hope that the three countries will reach a negotiated solution soon.