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February 21, 2010

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Pyramids to the Great Wall

China to Egypt. Shanghai to Alexandria. People to people. Civilization to civilization. Culture to culture. Aspirations to aspirations. We strive for a better life and share a great history of human development. All of this is a great symbol of the sustainable friendship between two great countries, two great cities and two great people.

Before I continue I would like to express my thanks and great appreciation for inviting me to join in the celebration of the upcoming World Expo in Shanghai in May 2010. It is a spectacular occasion which reflects the latest human achievements in science, culture and economic development, and which enjoys a history of more than 150 years of global participation. This great event is not only an economic and trade arena, but also a meeting point for human and cultural activities.

Thanks to those who were behind the success of this Shanghai event: the Municipality of Shanghai, the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, Shanghai Daily, Jiefang Daily and Wenhui Daily.

My "Chinese passion," based on my love for Shanghai, is also shared by my fellow Egyptians.

A recent study based on a public opinion poll, and carried by the Egyptian Cabinet of Ministers Information and Decision Support Center, showed that China is perceived by an overwhelming majority of Egyptians as the most "friendly" country worldwide.

Whenever we Egyptians visit China or attend any Chinese event, the warm welcome we receive, whether from Chinese officials or people, evokes reciprocal admiration and love for Egypt.

The mutual admiration between our peoples is not really surprising to me. It is the product of an appreciation that ancient civilizations developed toward each other through positive interaction, constructive dialogue and mutual respect.

At the core of this appreciation lies a search for commonalities that unite us as human beings.

Those commonalities constitute a universal human heritage essential for advancement of mankind. China and Egypt both are proud of their ancient civilizations, which share many of those commonalities. Both have made enduring contributions to human heritage. Both have historically had a strong sense of their identities. Both have their place and role in the world. Both share an ideological and ethical system of beliefs and codes whose central concern is the maintenance of a stable and human order, based on the virtues of benevolence, righteousness, wisdom and good faith.

As his Excellency, President of Egypt, Mr Hosni Moubarak said: "China and Egypt are both creators of human glory and progress, and also defenders of mankind's cultural heritage. We both pursue lofty values and ideals".

Within this history of Sino-Egyptian relationship, it should be mentioned that Egypt was one of the first countries that not only recognized New China and exchanged diplomats on 30 May, 1956, but also celebrated the 50th anniversary of this event. The Information and Decision Support Center was among the Egyptian institutions that organized a remarkable celebration on this occasion and held a forum on our relations.

An intensive cooperation with several Chinese think tanks has developed over the years in several areas of cooperation, including the exchange of research and expertise. In this regard, I was invited by the China Executive Leadership Academy to give lectures on cultural diplomacy and China's image abroad. Think tanks have a rising role to play in the world as tools of research and policy advice. In the words of the United Nations, they become the bridge between knowledge and power. Both China and Egypt have encouraged the establishment of think tanks, including the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies and many others.

In our world today, economic globalization is further developing, which presents Asian and African countries with rare opportunities and challenges. Advancing science and technology, optimization and regrouping of production factors, quickening industrial shifts and greater interdependence among countries have turned the global economy into an interactive and integral entity.

The World Expo 2010 in Shanghai is reflecting these economic relations which bring favorable conditions for better trade, better economic development and better culture in a "Better City, Better Life".

In closing, I would like to stress the following points:

The World Expo 2010 Shanghai is a great opportunity not only for economic and trade objectives, but also as a mirror to New China and the very modern but mixed history of Shanghai. It is also an excellent venue for culture and ideas.

We, in Egypt, admire China's culture and the economic bridges it has built with Egypt, the gateway to Africa and the Arab world. We also admire China's Confucian institutes, their educational objectives and the role they play in developing China's image worldwide.

Chinese efforts at public diplomacy are admirable. Shanghai and its international role have played an effective part in this regard. I think that China needs to address more of its public diplomacy to the Islamic and Arab world.

Finally, I recall as if it were yesterday when developing countries under the leadership of China, Egypt, India, Indonesia and Ghana met in Bandung, Indonesia, and announced their principles:

Sincere friendship;

Equality and sovereignty;

Common development on the basis of mutual benefit;

Increased consultation and cooperation in international affairs;

Cooperation in the establishment of a new international and economic order.

The principles that united us then can unite us again under the new chairmanship of Egypt for the Non-Aligned Movement.

Best wishes to Shanghai and its World Expo 2010. We send a message of love and friendship from the land of the Pyramids to the land of the Great Wall.


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