Souvenirs with Chinese elements decorate an entire wall in the office of Essam Sharaf, former Prime Minister of Egypt. These souvenirs, including paper cuttings, Chinese calligraphy works, Peking Opera masks, as well as trophies and certificates that he received in China, carry his fond memories of years of friendly exchanges with China.
"I visited China for the first time in 2005 as Egypt's Minister of Transport and saw the rapid economic development of the country. So far, I've made some 30 visits to China and the continuous development of the country impressed me so much," said Sharaf.
He noted that China's development is about not only the ever-changing urban construction, but also the improving living standard of the Chinese people.
"Today, China has developed into a strong and modern civilized country. Unquestionably, this couldn't have been achieved without the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC)," Sharaf told People's Daily, adding that the CPC follows a people-centered development philosophy and the Chinese people trust and support the leadership of the CPC.
People-centered development philosophy is the secret to the CPC's success in governance, as it builds social consensus and fuels progress, he said.
As one of the earliest Egyptian readers of the book "Xi Jinping: The Governance of China", Sharaf attended a promotion seminar for the Egyptian edition of the book in 2014.
He said readers of the book can learn about the achievements and experiences of China in recent years, and understand the careful consideration and grand vision of Chinese President Xi Jinping in national governance.
Under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, China has eradicated absolute poverty and accomplished building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, embracing the bright prospect of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts, Sharaf told People's Daily.
"It is the people of a country that are best placed to judge whether the development path they have chosen for themselves is suitable." This point in the book has left a deep impression on Sharaf.
He said China doesn't copy the development models of other countries, but firmly follows the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, which sets a good example for other developing countries.
He believes the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Global Development Initiative, and the Global Security Initiative proposed by Xi as well as other global public goods provided by China are conducive to building a community with a shared future for mankind.
Chinese initiatives and actions not only chart the course for improving global governance and multilateral development, but also inspire developing countries to strive for prosperity, he said.
Sharaf is a staunch supporter of the BRI, and has attended hundreds of discussions and seminars on the initiative in Egypt and other Arab countries, as well as in some European countries.
In his eyes, the biggest influence of the BRI is that it establishes a global cooperation mechanism, champions multilateralism under fair governance and upholds the principle of globalization featuring extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits.
"The Silk Road was once a bridge of East-West exchanges and mutual learning between civilizations. At present, economic globalization is facing headwinds. Rising populism, exclusivism, as well as unilateralism, protectionism and hegemonism are posing threats to global peace and development. The joint construction of the BRI revitalizes the ancient Silk Road and brings it new missions. It helps participating countries break the isolation and unite together more closely," Sharaf remarked.
Over the past decade, the BRI has been joined by more and more countries. So far, China has signed Belt and Road cooperation documents with over 150 countries. A series of practical cooperation projects have been implemented and investment keeps expanding.
"I can see the prospects that the BRI is creating for global development with its fruitful achievements," Sharaf said, adding that the BRI is in line with Egypt's Vision 2030 and provides huge opportunities for Egypt-China cooperation.
The China-Egypt TEDA Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone, the central business district in Egypt's new administrative capital, as well as other cooperation projects, play an important role in promoting Egypt's economic and social development and in improving the livelihood of the Egyptian people, he added.
In his point of view, the Green Silk Road, the Health Silk Road, the Digital Silk Road and the Innovation Silk Road under the framework of the BRI cover wider areas of development.
"The significance of the BRI is more prominent when the world is making concerted efforts to fight COVID-19," he said.
Since the onset of the pandemic, BRI countries have joined hands to fight the disease and reinforced cooperation in economic recovery, which helps tackle challenges, Sharaf noted.
China's efforts to promote high-quality BRI development are conducive to implementing the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and will bring new prospects for advancing international cooperation and achieving common development, he said.