Israel, China Sign Deal to Increase Cooperation

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Chinese Vice Premier meet in Jerusalem to sign deal, cite shared cultural values.

Tova Dvorin ,

Liu and Netanyahu
Liu and Netanyahu

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong in Jerusalem Monday, in a continued bid to strengthen the relationship between the two countries. 

Netanyahu began by welcoming Liu, and praising the "great success and growth of the Israeli-Chinese cooperation and relationship." He noted that the relationship continues to grow.

"A year ago, I visited China," he began. "I had excellent meetings with President Xi and Premier Li."

"We have expanded our cooperation in many ways," he continued. "China is Israel's largest trading partner in Asia and fast becoming perhaps Israel's largest trading partner period as we move into the future."

"We see the great success of China," he reflected. "We admire China and we think there are complementary things that Israel brings to this relationship.  One of them is innovation."

Netanyahu then noted that the meeting is not only symbolic, but a practical move to sign an agreement increasing cooperation between China and Israel. 

"What we're going to sign today is an agreement for expanding innovation in cooperative efforts between our two countries - and equally our Health Minister will sign an agreement to help advance our cooperation in times of emergencies," he said. "This is one of many, many things that we're doing together and I think the possibilities are limitless."

According to Netanyahu, Israel and China share core cultural values.

"There's a natural affinity and friendship between the ancient people of China and the ancient people of Israel," he concluded. "We are both rooted in great traditions, but we also are absolutely determined to seize the future, and I welcome you in that spirit to Jerusalem and in the hopes of seizing the future together." 

Chinese Vice Premier Liu responded with equally friendly tidings.

"I want to thank your government's gracious invitation for me to come to this beautiful country that has a time-honored history and beaming with vitality," she began. "And I also want to convey the best greetings from myself and the Chinese government through the media to the government and people of Israel."

"As you rightly pointed out, Mr. Prime Minister, our two peoples are rooted in a tradition of friendship," she continued. "The Jewish and the Chinese peoples are peoples of great wisdom. We bracket Asia and we respectively created our splendid cultures that stretch thousands of years of history. And we both made enormous contributions to human civilization. Yesterday afternoon I visited the Israel Museum and also the Old City of Jerusalem and I was so amazed at the beauty of this country." 

Liu also added a historical aspect to Netanyahu's observations - specifically, the special role of Shanghai for the Jews during the Second World War. 

"Especially during the Second World War, we fought shoulder to shoulder against the world's fascism and we stood together through the dark time," Liu stated. "I spent 18 years in Shanghai. Actually, everywhere in Shanghai people tell the good stories of harmonious coexistence between the Chinese people and Jewish people."  

Liu has a particular connection to the Jewish community in Shanghai. 

"I want to mention in particular here that in 1942, a Jewish doctor by the name of Jacob Rosenfeld came to a place in Shanghai where my father fought against the Japanese aggressors," she stated. "And Dr. Rosenfeld and his team members saved the lives of thousands of Chinese people. This is a group photo of Dr. Rosenfeld and this is my father here, and one of the founding generals of China, General Xin Yi, named Dr. Rosenfeld as one of the heroes against Japanese aggression. Unfortunately in 1952, when Dr. Rosenfeld visited Israel, he passed away. So when my father was around, he vowed to visit Israel and to see the hometown of Dr. Rosenfeld to express his appreciation, and his dream was realized by his daughter." 

The vice premier promised to strengthen diplomatic and economic relations between China and Israel, based in part on that experience. 

"So this time, I am visiting Israel to implement the consensus reached between our leaders during your visit and also President Peres' visit to China," Liu noted. "In the past twenty years since the establishment of diplomatic relations, our two countries have enjoyed sound political relations and ever stronger practical cooperation, and the past two visits all agreed that we should expand our cooperation in fields including innovation to the mutual benefit of the two countries."

"So, this trip for me is truly a trip of learning," she continued. "I am here to learn from the best practices of Israel in science, technology and innovation. And this is also a trip of promoting cooperation. It is truly our hope that we will be able to bring our cooperation in all fields to new heights, and certainly it is indeed a trip of friendship and I am here to enhance the friendship between our peoples so as to increase our popular support for the growth of this relationship."

Israel has been making signs of rapprochement towards China and away from the U.S. That process began picking up speed last May, when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu travelled to China.