China asserts growing Middle East role as foreign minister visits Egypt, Syria

China asserts growing Middle East role as foreign minister visits Egypt, Syria
China is continuing to assert its influence in the Middle East as its foreign minister paid visits to Syria and Egypt over the past few days.
2 min read
19 July, 2021
Wang's Cairo visit focused mainly on economic cooperation and boosting ties [AFP/Getty]

China and Egypt signed a deal on Monday to boost bilateral ties during an official visit to Cairo by Beijing’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who was in Syria only days earlier.

"Egypt is one of China's most important strategic partners among Arab countries, in the Islamic world, in Africa and among developing countries," China's Xinhua News Agency quoted Wang as saying, as he met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

Wang expressed China’s readiness to work with Cairo in several areas including security, development, and technology, adding that Beijing will continue to support Egypt in its fight against Covid-19.

Wang attended a ceremony marking the joint production of one million doses of the Covid-19 Sinovac vaccine, according to the ministry’s official Twitter page.

Shoukry voiced support for China’s "sovereignty and security", saying that Egypt opposed any interference in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Taiwan and Tibet - issues that have caused frictions between China and the West.

"Egypt is willing to work with China to strengthen their cooperation in economy, trade, industry, science and technology within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)," Shoukry said. 

Wang also met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi during his visit.

Before heading to Egypt, Wang was in Syria over the weekend for talks focused on economic issues also.

He met with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad soon after landing in the capital Damascus.

He also inaugurated six infrastructure projects during that trip, as part of the BRI.

Wang also met with Syrian regime leader Bashar Al-Assad.

China, along with the Syrian regime’s main international ally Russia, has previously used its vote at the UN Security Council to veto resolutions unfavourable to the regime.

Following the May 2021 election, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that his country would "offer every available assistance to Syria to revive its economy".

China has also offered assistance to the regime during the coronavirus pandemic, supplying vaccines and medical equipment.

The visits highlight China's growing influence in the region, with Beijing having already formed good relations with Turkey, Iran, and Gulf states.