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Egypt's President Visits China, Seeks Stronger Economic Ties

Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi speaks to his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao (not shown) during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, August 28, 2012.
BEIJING — Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is in Beijing this week for a two-day state visit that analysts say will focus largely on investment and ways China can help Egypt revitalize its economy.

In China, the arrival of President Mohammed Morsi is being seen as an effort by Egypt's new leader to forge closer ties with Beijing and highlight what some analysts argue is the growing importance of China's role in the Middle East.

"Many people, many governments in the world, want to guess the future direction of the Egyptian political situation and his [Morsi's] policy," explained Shi Yinhong, a political science professor at Renmin University in Beijing. "It's remarkable that for his first foreign visit he chose China."

Shi says one reason why Morsi may have come to China for his first visit outside of the Middle East is because he wants to take a more balanced approach to foreign relations and set himself apart from his ousted predecessor, Hosni Mubarak.

Shi believes that Egypt's new leader wants to give countries in Asia a better sense of his policies. But above all else, he adds, the key focus will be on ways China can help boost Egypt's economy.

"The Egyptian economic situation is very poor and I think that he will want to attract some Chinese economic assistance, investment or trade," Shi added.

China's state-run Xinhua news agency says Chinese companies can help Morsi carry out his plan to revitalize the Egyptian economy by cooperating in a wide range of fields including industry, energy, tourism and technology, and providing Egypt with both experience and capital.

Egypt's president will attend a meeting with business leaders while in Beijing and meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao. During the visit, the two countries are expected to sign agreements on several major cooperation projects.

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