The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology laid a cornerstone on Wednesday for the first Israeli University in China – The Guangdong Technion-Israel Institute of Technology (GTIIT) in Shantou, in the Guangdong province of southeastern China.The new university represents a historic collaboration between the Technion and Shantou University in China, and was made possible with the support of the Governor of Guangdong Province, the Shantou Municipality and the Li Ka Shing Foundation, which promotes education and healthcare initiatives.“The combination of the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of Israel and the unbelievable scale and resources of China will result in a great partnership. Together we will create a major research institute that will help not only China and Israel, but also mankind in general,” said Technion President Peretz Lavie at the groundbreaking.Leading the ceremony were former Israeli president Shimon Peres, GTIIT vice chancellor, Technion Distinguished Professor and Nobel laureate Aaron Ciechanover, Minister of Science, Technology and Space Ophir Akunis, Hong Kong business leader and philanthropist Li Ka-shing, and GTIIT Chancellor Li Jiange.The Li Ka Shing Foundation donated $130 million to fund the project – the largest donation ever made to the Technion and one of the largest donations to higher education in Israel.“In this day and age, no one has an iota of doubt that technological innovation underpins a country’s ability to create collective wealth, and that it is the key impetus to individual success,” Li Ka-shing said at the groundbreaking ceremony.“Creativity is the defining centerpiece of our time – powering us into the future. Establishing a creative paradigm is not easy to set right, only through education and the rule of law can we build a free, fair, fun and fruitful future for all,” he added.At the ceremony, former president Peres said, “The establishment of a Technion campus in China is more proof that Israeli innovation is breaking down geographic borders. China is one of Israel’s major partners in technology and hi-tech, and there are over 1,000 Israeli companies active in China. I hope that the economic cooperation between these two countries will continue to expand, as both countries have much to share with – and learn from – one another.”The university, set to enroll its first class of 200 students in 2016, will be comprised of three schools – the College of Engineering, the College of Science and the College of Life Sciences.Areas of study will eventually include chemical engineering, materials engineering, environmental engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry, mathematics, physics, biotechnology and food engineering, biology, and biochemical engineering.“I am very happy for the cooperation materializing between the Technion, Guangdong Province, one of the richest and most important of China’s provinces, and Shantou University,” said Aaron Ciechanover, GTIIT Vice Chancellor and a Technion Distinguished Professor.“The Technion will contribute its extensive experience in training engineers who know how to apply what they have learned, and turn their knowledge into commercial products that focus on science and technology. Our Chinese partners will contribute their diligence and devotion, qualities that we Israelis are somewhat lacking. Thus, this collaboration will benefit both sides,” he said.By 2025 the GTIIT is expected to enroll some 5,000 students, made up of 4,000 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate students.“I want to thank the Israeli government and the colleagues at Technion. Facilitating the progress of human civilization through science and technology has been the common aspiration of China and Israel. GTIIT will continue the fine tradition of Technion in Shantou, Guangdong Province so as to build a ‘Silicon Valley’ in South China,” said Li Jiange, inaugural president of GTIIT.In the future, an industrial park is planned for the GTIIT campus, which will serve as a foothold for Israeli companies to enter key markets in China.Yona Yahav, mayor of Haifa, praised the cooperation and said that this week Shantou became Haifa’s fourth twin city.“The connection between Shantou and Haifa is unique, due to the high involvement of Haifa in the Chinese economy.The ecosystem created by the economic cooperation between higher education and entrepreneurship, as exists in the case of the Technion and Haifa, is a successful model that the Chinese wish to implement in Shantou,” he said.“The Haifa municipality sees national importance in advancing the cooperation and strengthening of ties between China and Israel,” he added.Shantou University was founded in 1981 as a comprehensive university jointly supported by the Ministry of Education, the Guangdong Provincial Government and the Li Ka Shing Foundation. The university consists of eight colleges and schools and has a population of some 10,000 students and 90,000 graduates.