Historical and cultural similarities between the Egyptian and Chinese peoples established rules of political and diplomatic relations between the two countries. This similarity was manifest when Chinese history books mentioned that "Alexandria" is the first city in Africa that appeared in the Chinese historical records, as the name of "Egypt" also was mentioned in some Chinese literature.
The land Silk Road and Incense Route linked between Egypt and China, not only commercially and economically, but also culturally, intellectually and scientifically. Qulzum port (currently Suez) has played an important role in trade exchange between Egypt and China in ancient times, and now the Suez city was selected also in modern time to establish an economic zone as part of Egyptian-Chinese cooperation.
1. Egyptian-Chinese relations in Nasser era
In 1953, trade exchange between the two countries reached about $11 million, compared with $1.7 million in 1951 and 800,000 in 1950. In 1954, the Chinese side agreed to an Egyptian proposal for setting up an Egyptian commercial representation office in China.
In May 1956, the Egyptian and Chinese governments issued a joint statement on the establishment of diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level.
In July 1956, after late president Nasser announced the nationalization of the Suez Canal Company, China took the initiative to support this decision. The Chinese president emphasized that the Chinese government and people will support the brave struggle of the Egyptian people in order to protect their sovereignty over the Suez Canal.
After the Tripartite aggression on Egypt in 1956, the Chinese government issued a statement condemning this aggression and stressed its firm support for the just struggle of the Egyptian people in order to safeguard national sovereignty and independence.
When the Sino-Indian war broke out in 1962, Egypt has sought to mediate in the dispute.
2. Egyptian-Chinese relations in Sadat era
In 1973, Egyptian Vice-President Hussien el-Shafie visited China and held a series of meetings with Chinese officials, where he briefed them on the situation in the Middle East and Egypt's efforts to restore its occupied territories. He received all support for the efforts exerted by Egypt on this score.
In October 1973, Chinese President met with Egypt’s Ambassador to China and handed him a cable of support from the Chinese leadership and people to the Egyptian and Syrian leadership in the war against Israel and announced Chinese financial and food assistance to Egypt.
3. Egyptian-Chinese relations in Mubarak era
In the 80s, both Egypt and China began a new phase at the internal level and in bilateral relations as well. Vice-President Hosni Mubarak visited China on January 5, 1980 leading a high-level delegation to exchange views between the two countries in light of the successive international developments.
In 1983, President Hosni Mubarak paid an official visit to China, where he was the first Egyptian president to visit China. In 1986, the Chinese president and PM paid visits to Egypt.
The 90s was very important period in the Egyptian-Chinese relations, where cooperation intensified at the political, economic and cultural levels. Also, tourism movement increased between the two countries, in addition to the establishment of strategic partnership in 1999 during a visit by president Mubarak to China.
After the establishment of the China-African Cooperation Forum, cooperation and coordination between the two countries intensified. Also, in 2004 the Arab-Chinese cooperation forum was established during a Cairo visit by the Chinese president.
In June 2006, the Chinese PM visited Cairo and then president Mubarak visited Beijing in November 2006. During these visits, the two sides signed several agreements on political and economic cooperation.
4. Egyptian-Chinese relations after January 25 and June 30 revolutions
During the political transition in Egypt in the past five years, after January 25, 2011 and June 30, 2013 revolutions, China confirmed, in word and action, its respect to the will of the Egyptian people and rejected any foreign interference in the internal affairs of Egypt. The Chinese investments in Egypt were not cut down. Rather, new Chinese projects were opened.
Chinese officials visited Egypt after January 25 and June 30 revolutions including Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun in March 2011, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in May 2011 and Vice Minister of Commerce Fu Tse Yang in May 2012. Tse Yang signed during his visit an economic cooperation agreement whereby China extends to Egypt $90 million and an additional grant including 700 police cars and two container search instruments. On February 22, 2014, a Chinese business delegation visited Egypt. They expressed their desire to pump new investments in Egypt in the fields of contracting, infrastructure and telecommunications.
5. Egyptian-Chinese relations in Sisi era
On 23/3/2020, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi lauded, during a phone call with his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping, China's significant success in containing the novel coronavirus. The Chinese president voiced his government and people’s appreciation for Egypt’s support to help overcome that crisis. The Chinese leader also praised strong ties between the two countries, expressing China’s will to back Egypt in combating COVID-19. Both leaders agreed to strengthen strategic cooperation between Egypt and China on transferring Chinese technology and providing training for Egyptian cadres in all fields.
On 5/6/2014: Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated President-elect Abdel Fattah El Sisi over wining the presidential election and expressed his willingness to develop bilateral relations.
On 9/6/2014: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met a Chinese delegation led by Minister of Industry and Information Technology Miao Wei after attending President Sisi's inauguration ceremony.
On 2/8/2014: The two-day Egyptian-Chinese strategic dialogue sessions kicked off in Cairo.
On 17/9/2014: PM Ibrahim Mahlab decided to form a committee called "China Unit" in the Egyptian Cabinet with the aim to serve common interests and achieve development goals in both countries. The unit includes the ministers of trade and industry, petroleum, electricity, foreign affairs, international cooperation, agriculture, transport and investment.
On 22/11/2014: PM Ibrahim Mahlab received the Chinese president's envoy in the presence of Minister of International Cooperation Naglaa Al-Ahwani. The Chinese envoy conveyed his country's viewpoint regarding bolstering the two countries' relations.
On 22-25/12/2014: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi started his first visit to China after he assumed his post as president. President Sisi welcomed the Chinese president's initiative to raise Egyptian-Chinese relations up to the level of comprehensive strategic partnership. The two sides also signed agreements on economic and technical cooperation.
The president asserted that Egypt backs the Chinese initiative for reviving the historical Silk Road. President Sisi met with the Egyptian-Chinese business council. President Sisi held a meeting with presidents of 28 Chinese universities and also met with representatives of major Chinese tourism companies.
On 1/9/2015: President Sisi visited Beijing to attend celebrations marking WWII victory day. He had talks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in the Republican Palace. The Chinese president noted that the Egyptian army's participation in the celebrations attests to keenness on part of Egypt to promote bilateral relations. The Chinese president held that Egypt under president Sisi has accomplished several achievements and enhanced its status at the regional and international levels.
The Chinese president pointed out that year 2016 marks the 60th anniversary of the Egyptian-Chinese diplomatic relations. The president announced that 2016 is Egypt-China Culture Year.