china flag 311.
(photo credit: Jason Lee / Reuters)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday he will travel to China
next Sunday, in the first prime ministerial trip there since Ehud Olmert visited
Netanyahu is scheduled to meet the top Chinese leadership during
a five-day trip that will take him to Shanghai, the country’s commercial capital,
While diplomatic issues such as Iran and Syria will
undoubtedly come up in the talks, the focus – according to diplomatic officials
– will be on bilateral and economic issues.
Israel and China, which only
established diplomatic ties in 1992, do some $10 billion worth of trade a year,
a sum that Israeli officials believe can be significantly
Netanyahu has consistently placed an emphasis on strengthening
the relationship with Beijing, and during a cabinet meeting last year where he
called on his ministers to curb their travel abroad because of the economic
situation, said that the one exception was China, where he urged the ministers
to visit as much as possible to cement the relationship.
view, one official said, Israel’s hi-tech capabilities and innovation, and
China’s production capacity, was a “winning combination.”
Last year, in a
speech on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties, Netanyahu
said the two countries had “barely scratched the surface” of the potential of
Israeli-Sino ties. During that speech he talked of a “doubling of
One of the economic issues on the agenda will be plans to build a
railroad from Ashdod Port to Eilat, which could serve both as way for the
Chinese to ship goods to Europe without having to go through the Suez Canal, and
as a possible conduit for Israeli natural gas to China.
one official would not respond when asked whether the prime minister would
present the Chinese with any new intelligence information.
“He will be
talking about the dangers of Iran proceeding on its current course,” the
official said, and how a nuclear Iran would lead to an increase in regional
instability, something that would harm countries – such as China – that were
dependent on the region for oil.