Defence Minister Sedky Sobhi returned to Egypt, Saturday, after striking deals for new weapons and military equipment with his Chinese counterpart, Chang Wanquan.
Sobhi and Wanquan also signed joint manufacturing agreements, according to state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram.
The officials conducted “fruitful and constructive talks in the fields of military cooperation and exchange of experiences between the armed forces of both countries”, an Egyptian Defence Ministry statement said Saturday.
It is a significant step in Egypt’s move towards the East, which keeps Western influence in check, with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s first visit outside the Arab region after his inauguration being to China.
Over the past 35 years, the US has provided over $40bn worth of military aid to Egypt, second only to Israel, according to an Atlantic Council report. The once familiar Egyptian-US relations have worsened since the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. US military aid to Egypt was temporarily suspended, as the US regarded the overthrow as a military coup, sparking the administration’s concerns over democracy in Egypt.
Egypt and China have an active economic relationship. In the three years since 2013, China agreed to give Egypt CNY 150m ($24.4m) to support social and economic projects. The total value of Chinese development aid programmes in Egypt amounts to $120.3m in non-refundable grants and $304.5m in concessional loans.
Before Al-Sisi’s visit to China, a Chinese presidential envoy to Egypt announced his country’s intention to establish a “comprehensive strategic partnership” with Egypt.
During the meetings, Al-Sisi stressed Egypt is serious in its desire to strengthen relations with China. He highlighted that Egypt can learn from China’s economic experience, but added that the partnership should see cooperation in multiple areas, including counterterrorism.
Al-Sisi expressed his desire for increased Chinese investment, referring specifically to the development of the Suez Canal zone.