U.S. media is reporting that on his first official trip outside the Middle East, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was in China where he obtained development credits and met with the Chinese President. According to a Wall Street Journal report:
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, right, on his first official trip outside the Middle East, secured Chinese credit for development and met with China’s President Hu Jintao in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People Tuesday. Mr. Morsi secured new Chinese credit for economic development in Egypt, and met Chinese President Hu Jintao at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on Tuesday, the first day of his state visit. His trip will also include a closely watched stopover in Iran. Mr. Morsi’s visit underscores that Cairo and others in the region view Beijing as a critical partner. The warming ties come despite Beijing’s reluctance to support the revolutions that have swept Mr. Morsi and others into power. President Mohammed Morsi of Egypt is received at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People with Chinese President Hu Jintao. WSJ’s Brian Spegele reports via WorldStream. The high-profile visit signals China’s approach to handling Arab Spring upheaval hasn’t jeopardized its ties with regional powers, Chinese analysts said this week. Western leaders, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have criticized decisions by Beijing and Moscow to block United Nations action against Syria, for example. ‘If China was so bad for the Middle East people, I don’t think President Morsi would come to China,’ said Wang Suolao, who researches China-Middle East relations at Peking University. China is battling negative perceptions in some parts of the Middle East, particularly after it vetoed with Russia U.N. Security Council resolutions targeting the Syrian regime in February and in July, defying calls for action by a number of Middle Eastern nations. China has long held that it won’t support plans that it sees as meddling in other countries’ affairs. Nonetheless, analysts said the issue of Syria was unlikely to be the focus of Mr. Morsi’s meetings with Mr. Hu and other Chinese leaders this week. Egypt’s economy has been largely flattened by political unrest, and Cairo is eager to portray the visit as focused on spurring much-needed investment rather than Arab Spring politics. ‘This is not about Syria, it’s about bilateral relations with Egypt and the new projection of Egypt internationally,’ said Nabil Fahmy, dean of the School of Public Affairs at the American University in Cairo and a former Egyptian ambassador to the U.S. employment rates and credit remains tight amid continuing fears of political uncertainty. At the same time, Cairo is eager to attract Chinese tourists and sell more goods to China, among other efforts aimed at reducing a severe trade imbalance. Total trade between the countries surged to $8.8 billion in 2011 from around $6 billion in 2009, according to official Chinese statistics, though a trade deficit of $5.8 billion in 2011 continued to heavily tilt in China’s favor. U.S. trade with Egypt totaled $8.3 billion in 2011, a slight decline from 2010, according to U.S. Trade Representative data. The most tangible outcome of Tuesday’s meeting of the countries’ presidents was a new $200 million credit line from China Development Bank to the National Bank of Egypt.
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