(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Alongside Shougang municipal officials, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett launched the flagship “Water City” in the coastal Chinese province of Shandong on Monday.
With the launch of the Water City, Bennett declared that the city of Shougang would be the focal point for Israel’s water-related activities in the country.
The minister made the announcement in the presence of Chinese municipal officials, as part of his visit to China with an Israeli business delegation, which is focusing on opportunities for Israeli water innovators, according to the Economy Ministry.
The Chinese water system faces many challenges, including rapid population growth and contamination of water resources, the ministry explained. Ministry trade attaches in China have therefore been working with Chinese authorities to incorporate Israeli technologies into the country’s expansive water network, the ministry added.
“Israel and China are natural partners for technological and business cooperation,” Bennett said, during the Water City launch on Monday. “We have extensive experience in management of water resources, and the Water City project will help open the Chinese market to Israeli water companies, as well as advancing bilateral relations.”
The city of Shougang was chosen to become the Water City by the ministry and its Chinese counterparts. Israeli water technologies will be implemented on a commercial scale in Shougang, in an effort to persuade Chinese national authorities to adopt these solutions in other cities, the ministry explained. For its part, the city will have access to advanced technologies in the fields of desalination, sewage treatment, irrigation, agricultural water reuse, water supply and more.
While the Water City project is a flagship venture in terms of Israeli-Chinese cooperation on a government-to-government level, collaboration in this sector and in others has long been taking place on a business level. Since 2012, the Dowell Technological & Environmental Engineering Co. has been constructing a Sino-Israeli International Water Industrial Park to be based in China’s Guangdong province. This site, which aims to attract Israeli companies to develop technologies in Guangdong, was planned in the background of economic agreements signed between Israel and the Guangdong province in 2011.
Meanwhile, in December 2013, private investors and government officials from China’s Zheijiang province announced their intention to build a China-Israel Nanxun Innovation Industrial Park.
Bennett’s tour in China this week will continue until Thursday, during which the delegation will also visit Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing. In Nanjing in particular, the Israeli companies will have the opportunities to partake in business meetings with a variety of representatives from the country’s water management sector, the ministry said.
In addition to partaking in events related to water cooperation, Bennett will hold meetings with senior Chinese government officials from the Commerce Ministry and senior business executives, with the aim of helping Israeli companies forge partnerships and increase Chinese investment in Israel. The minister is also planning to visit the China-Israel Business Center in Shanghai, and he is set to inaugurate an Israeli exhibition farm in the southern Chinese province of Fujian.
Israel’s trade with China stood at $10.8 billion in 2013, and trade is expected to rise by 15 percent in 2014, according to the Economy Ministry’s Foreign Trade Administration.