Top Chinese politician tours Israeli tech startups

Visit comes on the heels of a flurry of recent news about Chinese investment in Israel.

Erel Margalit with Chinese 370 (photo credit: Henry Rome)
Erel Margalit with Chinese 370
(photo credit: Henry Rome)
A Chinese Communist Party leader toured a top Jerusalem technology venture capital firm on Wednesday and discussed the role of the Israeli government in encouraging the development of tech startups.
The visit by Liu Qibao, a member of the Communist Party’s political bureau and central committee, was part of a three-day tour of Israel that included trips to Tel Aviv University and the Knesset, according to Chinese state media. Liu runs the Communist Party’s Publicity Department – previously known as the Propaganda Department.
Flanked by a throng of reporters from Chinese news outlets, he and Chinese Ambassador Gao Yanping toured Jerusalem Venture Partners, an incubator for technology startup companies. They received briefings from JVP executives, including one of the company’s general partners, Kobi Rozengarten, and its founder, MK Erel Margalit (Labor).
Liu’s questions focused on the partnership between public and private funding. For instance, as the Israeli government provides essentially short-term loans to JVP’s startups, he inquired whether the government could exchange the loans for equity in a newly launched company.
“Is this kind of operating system allowed by law?” he asked through a translator.
Margalit answered “yes” in English, and Liu immediately smiled and raised his arms to signal the end of the discussion.
The visit came on the heels of a flurry of recent news about Chinese investment in Israel.
Two startups that American companies recently purchased – navigation company Waze and cellphone data company Onavo – were funded in part by a venture capital company run by Chinese billionaire Li Kashing, according to Jonathan Medved, a top Israeli venture capitalist.
“What we see [is] a major focus of more and more Chinese companies and [the] government looking to be involved in this ecosystem that we have here in Israel,” Rozengarten said after the event.