The ‘start-up nation’ and the Chinese dream

As a “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.

Great Wall of China_300 (photo credit: Reuters)
Great Wall of China_300
(photo credit: Reuters)
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 states.”
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.
There 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 going.
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.
Many performance 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 been flourishing.
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 peoples.
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.
We have drawn the blueprint for China’s development in the years to come.
The 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.
By the 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 realized.
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 this regard.
Israel is small in size but big in innovation.
As a “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.
With the 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.