Interview: Innovative cooperation becomes highlight, booster of China-Israel relations: Chinese ambassador

(Xinhua) 08:41, January 24, 2022

JERUSALEM, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1992, China and Israel have achieved fruitful cooperation in various fields, and innovative cooperation has become a highlight and booster of the China-Israel relations, Chinese Ambassador to Israel Cai Run has said.

For the past 30 years, "political mutual trust has been continuously enhanced, the leaders of both sides have been in close communication, and friendly exchanges at all levels have become increasingly frequent," Cai told Xinhua in a recent interview ahead of the 30th anniversary of the China-Israel diplomatic ties that falls on Monday.

China and Israel have built key mechanisms for bilateral cooperation, including the China-Israel Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation and The Intergovernmental Mechanism of Economic and Technological Cooperation. In 2017, the two countries announced the establishment of an innovative comprehensive partnership to take the bilateral ties to a new level, the Chinese ambassador noted.

China has become Israel's largest trading partner in Asia and the third-largest in the world, Cai said, noting that the trade volume, which was only 50 million U.S. dollars at the beginning of the diplomatic ties, expanded to 22.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2021.

The bilateral trade has continued to grow against the headwind of the COVID-19 pandemic, reflecting the resilience and potential of the China-Israel economic and trade cooperation, he said.

The two sides also have seen active two-way investment in fields such as science and technology, agriculture, and medicine and health, said the ambassador.

"Chinese companies have participated in the infrastructure construction in Israel, and many innovative Israeli companies operate in China. The two sides have cooperated to build landmark projects such as the new Haifa Port, the Red Line of the Tel Aviv light rail project, the China-Israel Changzhou Innovation Park, and the Shanghai Innovation Park," he added.

The people-to-people exchanges between the two countries are increasingly active, Cai said.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the two countries issued 10-year multiple-entry visas reciprocally to each other's citizens, and there were direct flights to Tel Aviv from major Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Hong Kong.

In 2019, about 170,000 Chinese citizens visited Israel, while some 100,000 Israelis visited China. A total of 24 pairs of sister cities have been formed between the two countries. Many colleges and universities in China offer Hebrew majors, and Israel has included Chinese in the curricula of its universities, middle and primary schools.

Cai mentioned that at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in China in early 2020, Israeli leaders and many Israelis voiced empathy with and support for China, with the Tel Aviv City Hall lit up with "China Red" to express blessings. Later on, China helped Israel in buying and transporting medical equipment and medicines for fighting the pandemic.

Over the past 30 years, the China-Israel ties have withstood the challenges of the ever-changing international landscape and advanced in a positive direction of friendly cooperation, mutual respect and benefit, and win-win outcomes, he said.

Cai said that these achievements should be primarily attributed to the two countries' leaderships which have been guiding the bilateral ties forward through top-level planning from a strategic perspective.

These achievements were also made possible by the two sides' adherence to the spirit of mutual respect and seeking common ground while reserving differences. China and Israel have respected each other's development path, and abided by the basic norms of international relations such as mutual respect for sovereignty and non-interference in each other's internal affairs, the Chinese envoy explained.

"A friendship that spans thousands of years is an important bond," Cai said, noting that the long history of the friendly exchanges between the Chinese nation and the Jewish nation has laid a solid foundation for the China-Israel relations.

Cai also highlighted the great potential and broad prospects for advancing the China-Israel cooperation in future.

"China will take the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations as an opportunity to work with Israel to implement the important agreements reached by the leaders of the two countries, firmly grasp the right direction of the development of bilateral ties, and continuously enhance strategic mutual trust and friendship between the two peoples," he said.

"Cooperation in various fields will promote the steady and long-term development of China-Israel innovative comprehensive partnership to better benefit the two peoples," the ambassador concluded. 

(Web editor: Peng Yukai, Liang Jun)


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