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Bridge of communication built on strong foundations

Egyptian Health Minister Hala Zayed speaks during a press conference in Cairo, Egypt, on April 8, 2021. Egyptian Health Minister Hala Zayed on Thursday lauded the cooperation between Egypt and China on combating the COVID-19 pandemic as "fruitful and unprecedented." [Photo/Xinhua]

Cultural exchanges between the two ancient civilizations have played a key role in promoting people-to-people bonds

The establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Egypt 65 years ago was a milestone in China's diplomatic history, ushering in a new era in China's relations with both Arab and African countries.

Since then, profound changes have taken place in the Middle East and in the world. However, the China-Egypt relationship has withstood the tests of the changing situation in the world and grown stronger over the years. It has become a model of friendly and cooperative relations between developing countries.

China and Egypt have always respected and supported each other on issues concerning their core interests. This is an important foundation for their good bilateral relations. In the 1950s and 1960s, China and Egypt firmly supported each other in their struggles safeguarding national sovereignty and dignity. In the process of economic development and national strength enhancement, China and Egypt have also supported each other with an open mind for win-win cooperation.

China has always attached great importance to Egypt's role in regional affairs, especially with regard to the Palestine question, which is the core of the Middle East issue, maintaining communication and coordination with Egypt to jointly support the struggle of the Palestinian people to restore their legitimate rights.

Besides, cultural exchanges have played a particularly important role in promoting people-to-people bonds and deepening cooperation between China and Egypt.

Culture is the soul of a nation, and also the bridge of communication between different nations and peoples. I remember that Egypt was the first country to teach the Chinese language in the Arab world - Ain Shams University set up the Chinese Department shortly after the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations, and its graduates, who came from all over the Arab world, have become a bond of mutual understanding and friendly cooperation between China, Egypt and the whole Arab world. During my time working in Egypt, I visited this university many times with some teaching supplies and Chinese books as gifts, and had good communication with the teachers and students and participated in their activities. I also promoted the establishment of Confucius Institutes at Cairo University and Suez Canal University. The Chinese Cultural Center in Cairo is one of the earliest overseas cultural centers of China, hosting a variety of cultural activities. With the support of the Chinese cultural departments, during my tenure as ambassador to Egypt, the Cultural Center launched the Ambassador Cup Chinese Speech and Talent Show, which is held annually to become a brand that inspires students to study Chinese culture.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations in 2006, the two sides held a series of grand commemorative activities and cultural exchanges. Among the events was one in which entertainers from China and Egypt performed together in front of the pyramids, which was attended by then Chinese premier Wen Jiabao and then Egyptian prime minister Ahmed Nazef, bringing the commemoration to a climax.

The cultural exchanges between China and Egypt just illustrate a value that Chinese treasures, world harmony arises from the ability to appreciate different cultures for their unique beauty.

Entering a new historical period, China and Egypt are working hard to achieve economic development and national rejuvenation. Egypt was one of the first countries to take part in the Belt and Road Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and fruitful cooperation has been made in this regard. Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in 2020, China and Egypt have offered mutual assistance and support to each other, and deepened cooperation in pandemic prevention, vaccine production and economic recovery, laying a solid foundation for upgrading their cooperation and opening a new chapter for it in the post-pandemic period.

The Middle East has always been an important region of global concern, as the security and development of the Middle East bear on that of the whole world. China has always attached great strategic importance to its relations with Arab countries, and as an important country in the Arab world, Egypt has long played a leading role in the development of China-Arab relations.

The continuous development of China-Egypt relations over the past 65 years is of great significance for further development of China's strategic partnership with Arab countries. Both China and Egypt are committed to a just and comprehensive settlement of the Palestinian question and have made joint efforts to advance the Arab cause of rejuvenation and safeguard human rights.

Thanks to the joint efforts of the two sides, China and Arab countries have established a future-oriented strategic partnership of comprehensive cooperation and common development. President Xi Jinping has maintained close contact with his Egyptian counterpart and the leaders of other Arab countries through various channels, which has helped to deepen political mutual trust and upgrade cooperation in a wide range of fields.

In the face of profound changes unseen in a century, the competition between multilateralism and unilateralism remains fierce. China and Egypt, along with other Arab countries, share common aspirations and similar claims in safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries and participating in global governance. Both countries support the international system with the United Nations at its core and the international order on the basis of the international laws.

Both China and the Arab countries are clearly aware that supporting each other on core issues of mutual concern and coordinating and cooperating on regional and international affairs means supporting fairness and justice and jointly safeguarding the common interests of all countries in the world, especially the developing countries. As ancient civilizations, China and Egypt have forged a broader path toward building a community with a shared future in the new era, along with the other Arab countries.

The author was the Chinese ambassador to Egypt from 2003 to 2007.