Bennett in China for New Joint Technology Project

Israeli companies hold a pilot for water technology in Chinese city, as Economics Minister urges Israelis to enter Chinese market.

Hezki Baruch, Ari Yashar ,

Naftali Bennett in China
Naftali Bennett in China
Jewish Home spokesperson

In a further sign of Israel's blossoming ties with China, in addition to Japan and India, Economics Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) left for an official week-long visit to China on Sunday to advance cooperation in the field of water technology.

During the visit Bennett and members of his ministry chose the city of Shaogong as a pilot for the "city of water" project, in which dozens of Israeli technology companies will take part in managing the water in the city, including stages of production, preservation, measurement and recycling. China, owner of the world's second largest GDP, is funding the project.

The project comes on the heels of a landmark plan in May to boost bilateral financial ties during Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong's visit to Israel, in addition to an agreement for bilateral cooperation.

Bennett toasted the new project with his Chinese counterparts over a glass of wine and the Jewish blessing over wine. Afterwards the minister met with Jack Ma, founder of the massive Chinese "Alibaba" corporation which is similar to Google, and invited him to Israel, an invitation which Ma accepted.

Around 20 representatives of Israeli water technology companies accompanied Bennett in the visit, including those from Mekorot, Shtang, Arad, Amiad and others. Each company is to hold business meetings with potential Chinese clients during the week-long trip.

"I know that the political situation in Israel is foggy, but we must continue growing our economy," said Bennett. "The world isn't really waiting for us to organize ourselves."

The minister said his ministry would help private Israeli businesses to enter the Asian market.

"I ask that every Israeli company in every field that is interested in breaking into China or Asia in general make contact with us at the foreign trade branch of the Economics Ministry - we'll help you devotedly. Our financial attaches are professional and empathetic - be helped by them."

During a previous visit to China last July, Bennett promoted business with the country saying the Chinese do not foist political visions on their business ties with Israel, a welcome change given recent moves in Europe and America, including threats of sanctions by the European Union.

That willingness not to mix business and politics at times can be a double-edged sword however. Even as it increases its ties with Israel, the Iranian government recently announced that China is set to double its investment in infrastructure projects in the Islamic republic.