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China and Israel Increasingly Seeking Closer Ties With Each Other

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China’s Commerce Minister Chen Deming was in Israel this week to sign a memorandum of understanding to promote commerce and cooperation between the Israel Export Institute and the Chinese Commerce Development institute.

It’s a natural partnership in many ways. China is a developing nation, it has a surplus of investment funds as well as a growing domestic market, and Israeli high tech, entrepreneurship and innovation can provide the basis for a valuable partnership to both countries.

The recent joint project to build a new freight railroad through the Negev to link Israel’s Red Sea port of Eilat with Israel’s Mediterranean ports and save time and money bypassing the Suez canal is just one recent example.

There are also projects involving the creation of platforms for the implementation of Israeli technologies in China, collaboration in the fields of water and agriculture, where the Israelis are the world leaders, even the establishments of mutual joint high-tech funds.

According to the Israel Export Institute, trade between Israel and China reached some $6.8 billion in 2010, a 49% increase compared with 2009. China is Israel’s second largest trading partner.

However Israeli exports to China (excluding diamonds) amounted to only 0.13% of China’s total imports. So there’s ample room for an increased market for Israel’s products.

Part of Chen Deming’s new MOU with Israel was to establish a joint schedule of meetings to work together on these items, and to exchange delegations back and forth.

The Chinese, of course, also have their eye on the major finds of oil and natural gas recently discovered in Israel.

There is no history of anti-semitism in China, and the two cultures ( the most ancient in the world) have a great deal of affinity…so business and cultural ties are increasing on both sides.

For instance,one of Beijing’s largest universities is set to establish an Israeli economics and Judaism department, and other universities are already graduating classes of students in Hebrew language and culture:

China’s University of International Business Economics (UIBE) has decided to offer its students the opportunity to study about the development of Israel’s economy, high-tech, business culture, the economy’s political aspect as well as about key figures in Israel’s economic history.

The department will be headed by University President Shi Jianjun and Zhao Shu, who will serve as the department’s secretary. “The Chinese are very impressed with Israel’s economy and believe it’s a model,” Shu said.

Behind the initiative is Israel’s chamber of commerce in Beijing. “One of the goals is to strengthen trade between Israel and China,” said General Manager Fani Gurevich.

Additional proof of the interest the Chinese take in Israel – at the University for Foreign Affairs in Beijing the first class of 16 students has completed studies in Hebrew language and culture. Another 40 students are currently studying Hebrew at the university, while another dozen or so learn Hebrew in other Chinese universities.

Ron Peleg, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Beijing said, “The more Israel is relevant to the Chinese market, the more interest there is in learning Hebrew.”

Barring something unexpected happening, look for these ties to increase..especially if President Obama is re-elected.


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