Messages between Chinese and Israeli presidents on ties inspire confidence, say experts

(Xinhua) 16:11, January 27, 2022

JERUSALEM, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- The recent congratulatory messages between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Israeli President Isaac Herzog on the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations have boosted confidence in bilateral ties, experts have said.

Xi noted on Monday that since the establishment of their diplomatic relations, the two peoples have deepened their friendship and bilateral relations have achieved remarkable progress.

Also on Monday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang exchanged congratulatory messages with his Israeli counterpart, Naftali Bennett.

Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan co-chaired the fifth meeting of China-Israel Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation with Yair Lapid, Israel's alternate prime minister and foreign minister, on Monday via video link, with the two sides pledging to promote cooperation on innovation.

"The top-level design has been a solid foundation for consolidating mutual political trust, forging ahead cooperation in the areas of economy, science and technology, and promoting people-to-people exchanges," said Ruan Zongze, executive vice president of the China Institute of International Studies.

As China and Israel forged an innovative comprehensive partnership in 2017, Israel became the second country, after Switzerland, to enjoy a partnership with China featuring "innovation," said Ruan.

"This makes the China-Israel relations pretty distinctive," said Ruan, noting that the obvious achievement Israel has made in science is compatible with China's commitment to pursuing high-quality development driven by innovation.

According to Chinese Ambassador to Israel Cai Run, China has become Israel's largest trading partner in Asia and the third-largest in the world. The volume of bilateral trade has increased more than 450 times in merely three decades.

"This fully illustrates the great potential, bright prospects and strong resilience of China-Israel cooperation," Cai has said.

Besides the impressive economic figures, Niv Schwartz, co-founder and CEO at Xinergy Global Business Consulting Company, said he believed "it's about the great potential, not only to see China as a market but also as the prosperous base for innovation."

The two sides have cooperated in such landmark projects as the new port of Haifa, the Red Line of the Tel Aviv Light Rail, the China-Israel Changzhou Innovation Park and the China-Israel (Shanghai) Innovation Park, making innovation a driving force in bilateral relations.

"Chinese companies have made up for Israel's shortage of labor force and high cost of manpower by taking part in infrastructure construction. Meanwhile, innovative Israeli enterprises have injected momentum into China's development as they settled in China for business," Cai noted.

"The two countries' strong economic complementarity, as well as cooperation in infrastructure construction and scientific and technological innovation, are strong propellers for advancing bilateral relations," said Ding Long, a professor at the Middle East Studies Institute at Shanghai International Studies University.

When China and Israel established diplomatic relations in 1992, only a few thousand trips were made between the two countries. Nowadays, people-to-people exchanges are much more vigorous.

The two countries have withstood various challenges amid the increasingly complex international situation, especially in the COVID-19 pandemic era, said Ma Xiaolin, a senior professor at the Institute for Studies on the Mediterranean Rim at Zhejiang International Studies University.

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

"The Chinese, like Israelis, aren't afraid of new ideas. There's a built-in curiosity in the character of our two peoples," said Lapid, according to a statement released by the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Matan Vilnai, former Israeli ambassador to China, also noted the importance of advancing people-to-people exchanges and called on the Israelis to understand that China is "not only" the second largest economy in the world.

Serving now as president at the Israeli campus of the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE), Vilnai called on people from both sides to facilitate mutual understanding.

"It's very important now we have the UIBE Israel, a platform which brings Chinese students to study in Israel and enables Israeli students to understand a real China," he said.

"I think both leaders understand that cooperation can advance both the Israeli goal to help create a better world and the Chinese vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind," said Carice Witte, founder and executive director of Sino-Israel Global Network &Academic Leadership, an Israeli policy organization. 

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)


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