China's powerful vice president to visit Israel in late October

His visit is believed to be the highest level Chinese visit since former president Jiang Zemin visited in 2000.

Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
China’s powerful Vice President Wang Qishan is scheduled to visit Israel at the end of the month, the highest level Chinese official to visit in close to two decades and, according to Israeli officials, a sign of the importance Beijing attributes to ties with Jerusalem.
Wang is a close ally of Chinese President Xi Jinping, the most powerful Chinese leader since Chairman Mao. Some commentators, using biblical imagery, have likened Wang as an Aaron to Xi’s Moses.
After serving for five years as the unbending head of Xi’s anti-corruption campaign, Wang, 70, was appointed vice president in March, something unusual for a man of his somewhat advanced age. A recent article in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post said he was “widely considered China’s most powerful vice president.”
Wang is scheduled to visit from October 22-25 and take part in the fourth joint Israeli-Chinese Innovation Conference, the Foreign Ministry announced on Monday.
This will be the highest level Chinese visit since then-president Jiang Zemin visited in 2000.
Wang was recently appointed as head of the China-Israel Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heading up the Israeli side. This committee was established in 2014 to promote innovation cooperation in various fields and includes ministries and government agencies from the two countries, as well as leading universities and research institutions.
According to Beijing watchers in Jerusalem, that such a prominent figure as Wang was given this position indicates the importance China attributes to innovation and technology cooperation with Israel.
The last such innovation conference was held in Beijing in 2017, and was attended by Netanyahu.
Wang is to be joined by a large business delegation, including Jack Ma, the co-founder and head of the Alibaba Group, one of the world’s largest e-commerce companies.
Wang’s visit comes as Israeli-Chinese trade reached nearly $10 billion in 2017, more than double what it was only a decade earlier. Trade through July of this year was nearly $1.5 billion more than during a similar period in 2017.
China has also invested heavily in Israeli infrastructure projects, including the expansion of Haifa and Ashdod ports, the construction of the Carmel tunnels in Haifa, and the building of the Tel Aviv light rail.
In August, Shaul Chorev, the former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, said at a conference in Haifa that Israel needed to create a government mechanism to ensure that Chinese investments do not pose a risk to Israel’s security interests. He voiced concern that allowing a Chinese company to operate the Haifa Port may limit cooperation with the US Navy because of American security concerns.
Channel 10 reported in July that the government – with an eye on massive Chinese investments here – began looking into developing a mechanism to review and oversee foreign investments in Israel.
The US has such a mechanism, called the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which an interagency committee authorized to review foreign investments in the US in order to determine their effect on national security.