Gen. Chen Bingde, chief of General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army,
arrived in Israel on Sunday as a guest of IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.- Gen.
Benny Gantz, marking the first visit of a Chinese military chief to the
Gantz received Bingde with an honor guard at the Kirya military
headquarters in Tel Aviv. The two men were were scheduled to meet for a festive
dinner on Sunday night with the participation of additional members of the IDF
General Staff.RELATED:Chinese army chief due in Israel next week
Defense officials said that Bingde’s visit did not signify
a change in Israeli policy regarding defense relations and exports to the
Chinese military. Israel significantly downgraded its defense ties with China in
recent years due to American pressure.
Israeli companies are forbidden to
sell weapons to the Chinese military.
The visit comes after Defense
Minister Ehud Barak’s visit to China in June, the first visit of a defense
minister to the country in a decade.
Bingde’s visit to Israel was part of
a tour that included stops in Ukraine and Russia.
He will visit Yad
Vashem and the IDF urban warfare training center in the Negev, and will hold a
series of meetings with top officials to discuss the Iranian nuclear threat, the
situation in Syria and the significance of the ongoing upheaval in the Middle
Earlier this year, Adm. Wu Shengli of the People’s Liberation Army
Navy visited Israel and met with Barak and commander of the Israel Navy V.- Adm.
Eliezer Marom. In 2010, a number of IDF generals, including the heads of the
Home Front Command and Military Intelligence, visited Beijing.
places a lot of importance on the visit, particularly because a recent United
Nations report accused China of supplying Iran with missile technology and
components from North Korea.
China is believed to be interested in
bolstering its presence in the Middle East – possibly in the form of arms sales
to Arab countries – and Israel hopes that by strengthening its ties with the
People’s Liberation Army it will be able to influence the process.