by Xinhua writer Fan Xiaolin
JERUSALEM, May 5 (Xinhua) — The upcoming visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to China is expected to further promote mutual political trust and cooperation in the fields of economy, trade and science.
Netanyahu is due to leave for China Sunday night for a five-day official visit, the first of its kind since 2007 when then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visited China.
Chinese Ambassador to Israel Gao Yanping told Xinhua in an interview that China and Israel have maintained close high-level contact in recent years, creating a good atmosphere for the growth of bilateral ties.
Recent years have also witnessed increasingly closer exchanges in various fields between the two countries, with bilateral communications and coordination continuously strengthened on security, economy, finance and efforts to deal with regional issues and global challenges, she added.
During his stay in China, Netanyahu will visit Shanghai and Beijing and meet with many Chinese entrepreneurs. The two sides are expected to sign a series of inter-governmental cooperation documents and commercial agreements on economy and trade, science and technology, and people-to-people exchanges.
China and Israel have made considerable progress in developing bilateral relations since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1992, with bilateral trade surging to nearly 10 billion U.S. dollars from 50 million dollars recorded in 1992.
China has become Israel’s largest trading partner in Asia and the third largest in the world. China is also a vital destination for Israel’s investments abroad in the fields of high-tech, new energy, water technology, environmental protection, agriculture and life sciences, and pharmacy, according to the Chinese envoy.
Israel is the first country to establish RMB venture capital funds in China, which have been invested in a wide range of fields, including China’s agriculture and electronics industries.
Observers here believe Netanyahu’s upcoming visit will further tap potential for cooperation between China and Israel.
Mark Regev, spoksman for Netanyahu, told Xinhua that Israel is a world center of innovations in many ways, particularly in agriculture and telecommunications.
“We hope to use the visit as a vehicle to further strengthen the bilateral relations between Israel and China, to strengthen our economic cooperation,” Regev said.
“Ultimately, Israel is a world center for science and technology, we are in many ways the center of innovation when it comes to hi-tech, whether it’s agricultural technology or communication technology,” the spokesman said.
Regev noted that the cooperation between Israel and China will “have tangible benefits for both our peoples.”
“We believe the potential is there for much stronger, much more robust and much larger cooperation between Israel and China,” he added.
China is now making efforts to change its economic development model in a bid to achieve sustainable development, while Israel has gained much experience in the development of a green economy, energy saving, environmental protection, scientific and technological innovations, and delivering social welfare. As a result, observers predict that the two countries hold great potential for mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation.
Israel has served as a main source of technology imports for China and the two countries have signed a series of cooperation agreements in the fields of science and technology. The Israeli government has pledged China a total of 1.3 billion dollars in preferential loans, and more than 200 projects, mostly high-tech, in 29 provinces of China have received Israeli funds. The Israeli Export and International Cooperation Institute lists China as a vital target market for Israeli exports and set up a China unit to help Israeli companies find opportunities to cooperate with their Chinese counterparts.
Han Jun, Science and Technology Attache of the Chinese Embassy in Israel, told Xinhua that China’s huge market and Israel’s leading ability in technological innovations are complimentary since Israel’s domestic market is small for its high-tech innovations and China’s market has a high demand for new high-tech. “Cooperation between the two sides can bring about a win-win situation,” he said.
Closer cultural exchanges have also been recorded between the two countries. The Israeli education ministry started in 2011 to make the Chinese language part of the curriculum for middle schools across the country and held the first national Chinese language test in July that year.
There are also fresh signs for possible greater cooperation between the two countries in the Middle East peace process.
One day before Netanyahu’s arrival in China, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has begun a state visit to China that will last from May 5 to 7.
The coincidence has attracted much attention. According to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, if the leaders of Palestine and Israel have the will to meet in China, China is willing to offer necessary assistance.
Chinese special envoy for the Middle East Wu Sike traveled to Israel in late April to make preparations for Netanyahu’s visit to China. During the trip, he listened to Israel’s views on the Israel-Palestinian issue and regional tensions. Wu told reporters that the fact that Israeli and Palestinian leaders were invited to China for a visit not long after the new Chinese government was formed indicates the importance China’s new leadership attaches to the Middle East issues.
China has always stood for resolving the Palestinian issue through the way of negotiations and has been much concerned over the prolonged stalemate in the peace process, Wu said, adding that China is willing to push Israel and the Palestinians to take some practical moves in order to create a good atmosphere for the resumption of the peace process.