China has called for an end to attacks on civilian ships in the Red Sea, which have dramatically escalated the conflict between Hamas and Israel and jeopardized China's commercial interests along the Suez Canal.
Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthi militia, which calls for “death to Israel,” is challenging the world's largest trading nation's ability to protect billions of dollars of strategic investments in Egypt.
Since President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi came to power in 2014, China has stepped up investment and commercial activity along Egypt's Suez Canal, through which a significant amount of the Asian giant's westbound goods flow. .
investment and trade
The Chinese government has encouraged state-owned enterprises to invest tens of billions of dollars in Egypt's logistics, transportation and energy sectors, providing them with $3.1 billion in loans, according to data from think tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI). announced the World Bank.
And in the months leading up to Hamas's October 7 attack on Israel, Chinese and Hong Kong companies pledged at least $20 billion to various projects along Egypt's main waterway.
The attacks, which halt commercial shipping from the Red Sea and Suez Canals, could frustrate Chinese investors who have poured millions into developing the waterway to profit from safe navigation.
State-owned shipping giant Cosco suspended operations to Israel on January 7, along with major shipping companies such as Maersk, Hapag-Lloyd and Evergreen, but in March last year it announced a $1 billion investment in Egypt's port infrastructure, according to AEI. invested.
COSCO is joined by prominent Hong Kong-based conglomerate CK Hutchison Holdings, which in March announced plans to spend an additional $700 million to develop a new container terminal at Ain Sokhna Port and B100 on the Red Sea. . At the port of Alexandria on the Mediterranean Sea.
In the same month, Shinko Ductile Iron Pipe announced plans to invest $2 billion in a steel plant, also in Ain Sokhna, demonstrating China's extensive commercial interests in Egypt as a link between Asia, the Mediterranean and European markets. .
And in October, Egypt's Suez Canal Economic Zone signed a $6.75 billion deal with state-run China Energy to develop green ammonia and green hydrogen projects in the Sokhna Industrial Zone, and also signed a $6.75 billion deal with state-owned China Energy to develop green ammonia and green hydrogen projects in the Sokhna Industrial Zone, and with Hong Kong-listed United Energy. The group signed an $8 billion deal. Establishment of potassium chloride production base.
Also at stake is President Xi Jinping's flagship Belt and Road Initiative, of which Egypt, Yemen and Iran are all members.
China has consistently maintained that it does not interfere in the internal affairs of other sovereign states, leading analysts to question how it would respond if problems arise between Belt and Road countries.
This dilemma especially arises when it fundamentally undermines the Belt and Road Initiative's objective of linking Asia and Europe through the creation of a series of continent-spanning investment and trade corridors.
More than money is at stake.
Beijing says China's involvement in unexpected détente between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran in 2023 was more than dotting the 'i's and crossing the 't's I'm being forced to prove it.
Following the agreement, China's top diplomat, Wang Yi, who is currently in Egypt as part of a four-country tour of Africa, said the Chinese government would like to play a constructive role in addressing global “hotspot issues.” He said he wanted to fulfill his role.
U.S. officials believe China is helping to rein in Iran and are pressuring Beijing to use its influence against Tehran to prevent an escalation of conflict between Israel and Hamas, which is also backed by Iran. It is reported that he did.
When COSCO was still calling at Israeli ports, even though its competitors had already rerouted from Asia to Europe via South Africa's Cape of Good Hope, some analysts were calling China's He questioned whether the influence of the Japanese government was involved. Iranian crude oil accounts for about 10% of China's crude oil imports.
Bloomberg reported on Thursday that at least five ships sailing in the Red Sea signaled or had “all-Chinese crews” in a space on communications networks that would normally include the ships' destinations in an attempt to evade attacks. It was reported that he had issued a statement to that effect.
China's Wang Yi told his Egyptian counterpart in Cairo on Sunday that Beijing supports a larger and more authoritative Israeli-Palestinian peace conference and a timeline for implementing a two-state solution.
So far, China appears to be restraining its diplomacy due to its position of non-interference in the internal affairs of other sovereign states. But it also seeks to shape events through diplomacy, increasing what Wang calls China's “international influence, attractiveness, and power.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)