By Evline Meshreky
Promises by Chinese president Xi Jinping to build a “Silk Road” and the Red Med project proposed by Benjamin Netanyahu were renewed this year, raising concerns about negative implications on the Suez Canal.
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yin said in his meeting with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on 3 August that China’s strategic building accords with Egypt’s strategy of national development. Wang urged bilateral cooperation in building up the Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone, Xinhua news agency reported.
Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed in September 2013 that China and Central Asia build a Silk Road economic belt. The 6,000km Silk Road runs from western China to Central Asia reaching Turkey through Iran, improving traffic. The new route would also open the strategic regional thoroughfare from the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea.
China is also willing to maintain bilateral coordination and cooperation on international and regional issues, he added.
In 15 August the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states welcomed China’ s initiative of building the new Maritime Silk Road.
On the other hand, Israel announced its plan in January 2012 to build a railway line linking Eilat on the Red Sea and Ashdod port on the Mediterranean. It could handle potential overflow from the Suez Canal on the freight route between Asia and Europe, reported Reuters. The project will be built in collaboration with China.
The estimated cost is $2bn and is expected to take five years to complete, reported DeutscheWelle in March.
The Center for International Maritime Security said the Suez Canal has long been a point of contention and the situation is unlikely to improve anytime soon DeutscheWelle said. The centre blames this on the political instability that left the Sinai Peninsula a “lawless zone for jihadists and Bedouin militias”.