twice as far as the original Chinese Silkworm, and there is the possibility that Egypt will eventually upgrade the missile to have a range of 170 miles. Also, China is expected to continue assisting Egypt in the production of rocket launchers and munitions, antitank missiles, and manportable antiaircraft missiles. 128 China's interest in Egypt, and the Middle East as a whole, was underscored by the visits of PRC President Yang Shangkun ( December 1989) and Premier Li Peng ( July 1991), both part of larger Middle East tours seeking to improve Chinese influence in the region.
In a very broad outlook, China's arms transfers to Egypt may be part of a longer-term strategy on the part of the PRC: to make its presence felt in regional affairs, independent of the superpowers, and as a growing power in its own right. Arms exports to Egypt were Beijing's first attempt at supplying the wide open arms markets of the Middle East, in the past the domain of the superpowers. Success in Egypt not only emboldened the Chinese to seek other opportunities for arms exports to the region, but also gained for Beijing an entree and base from which to explore such opportunities. In the years following its first arms exports to Egypt, China expanded its exports to several other countries in the region, including Algeria, Iraq, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, and possibly Libya. Slowly, China made its presence felt in the Middle East, a presence which was in part initiated and sustained through arms exports to the region. 129