On May 5, 2013, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will embark on an official
visit to China, his second since 1998. It will also be the first time an Israeli
prime minister has paid visit to China since 2007.
Netanyahu is going to
meet with Chinese leaders in Beijing and exchange views on bilateral relations,
as well as regional and international issues. During his visit, some bilateral
cooperative agreements are expected to be signed, which will further strengthen
the bonds between the two countries. Netanyahu’s visit is of great significance,
and will promote a new high in China-Israel relations.
His visit provides
us with a good opportunity to see how far we have come, where we are now and
where we are heading in the future.
As an ancient Chinese saying goes,
“Amity between people holds the key to sound relations between
The friendship between the Chinese and Jewish nations dates back
more than 1,000 years. The Jewish people in then-Chinese capital Kaifeng enjoyed
equal rights to the Chinese. From the 1880s onward, thousands of Jews went to
northeast China because of rising anti-Semitism in Russia and Eastern Europe,
forming the largest Jewish community in the Far East. Before and during World
War II, when Jewish people were struggling for survival against the Nazi
Holocaust, Shanghai became the only city in the world open to Jews.
has never been anti-Semitism in China in the course of history. Some Jewish
people in China also actively supported and participated in the Chinese struggle
against Japanese invasion.
Later on, they worked hard with the Chinese
people in building the new China. The friendly interaction between the two
peoples has laid a solid foundation for the establishment and development of
diplomatic ties between China and Israel.
On January 24, 1992, China and
Israel established diplomatic relations.
Since then, our relations have
stood up to test of a variety of complex situations and international
challenges. We experienced some ups and downs, but we dealt with our relations
from an overall and long-term perspective, and kept the momentum
Then-Chinese president Jiang Zeming visited Israel in 2000. Four
Israeli presidents and three prime ministers have visited China since 1992,
including prime minister Netanyahu’s first visit to China in 1998. The exchanges
between the two countries now take place at the central governmental level, as
well as at the provincial and municipal levels, and involve people from all
walks of life.
The busiest record I hold is receiving seven high-level
Chinese official delegations in one week last April. The cultural and
people-to-people exchanges are also in full bloom.
groups also come to Israel, and offer Israeli audiences the finest Chinese
culture. Chinese celebrities post beautiful photos in the Chinese social media
after their trip to Israel, which amaze and encourage more people to visit
Israel. Israelis have also experienced the Chinese people’s friendly attitude.
When the famous Israeli singer Ahinoam Nini held concerts in China in 2011, she
wrote in her blog that “the Chinese love Israel more than any other people I
have ever met.”
The pragmatic cooperation between the two countries has
The two-way trade volume increased almost 200 times,
from only a little more than $50 million in 1992 to $9.91 billion in 2012, which
means that today, bilateral trade in two days equals that of the whole year of
1992. Our cooperation has been expanded from agricultural cooperation in the
early days to almost all areas today, such as science and technology, education,
culture, arts, tourism and academia. With the burgeoning cooperation come more
tangible benefits and a lot of job opportunities for the two
Looking to the future, our relations are blessed with marvelous
opportunities for further development. China has successfully concluded the 18th
National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the 12th National People’s
Congress, and elected new leadership over the past 6 months.
drawn the blueprint for China’s development in the years to come.
main goals we set are as follows: By 2020, China’s GDP and per capita incomes
for urban and rural residents will double the 2010 figures, and the building of
a moderately prosperous society in all respects will be completed.
mid-21st century, China will be turned into a modern socialist country that is
prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious; and the
Chinese dream, namely, the great renewal of the Chinese nation, will be
The more China grows itself, the more development opportunities
it will create for the world. It is projected that in the coming five years,
China’s imports will reach some $10 trillion, its outbound investment $500b.,
and the number of its outbound tourists may well exceed 400 million, 50 times
Israel’s total population.
Looking ahead, we are full of confidence in
China’s future. Meanwhile, we are aware that China remains the world’s largest
developing country, and it faces many difficulties and challenges on its road to
progress. We are unwaveringly committed to reform and opening up, and will
concentrate on the major task of shifting the growth model. We are endeavoring
to implement the strategy of innovation-driven development, and taking steps to
promote innovation to catch up with global advances. Israel is a stakeholder in
Israel is small in size but big in innovation.
“start-up nation,” Israel has much to share and cooperate with China. If we work
hand-in-hand, and combine our respective advantages, we will enjoy common
development and win-win results. I am pleased to note reports Prime Minister
Netanyahu has called on the Israeli ministers to fly to China as much as
possible. I really appreciate his vision. I am ready to work with the Israeli
side to promote the bilateral cooperation in various fields.
interdependence between countries deepening in the globalized world, China and
Israel have a shared destiny. The closer our cooperation is, the more benefits
will accrue for both our peoples, and the more contributions we will be able to
make to regional stability, world peace and global prosperity.
I am fully
convinced that with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to China, a brighter future
for our friendship and cooperation will be ushered in.
The writer is the
People’s Republic of China’s ambassador to the State of Israel.