The Yin and Yang of China and Israel

by DARLENE CASELLA January 10, 2013

Israel might be seen as David with China as Goliath, on a world map.  However, a symbiotic relationship has developed between them, while the Palestinian Authority remains a thorn in their affection. 

President Barak Obama presents a cold shoulder to Israel, and Secretary of Defense in waiting, Chuck Hagel, would increase the freeze.  Meanwhile Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reciprocates warm overtures from The Peoples Republic of China (PRC).  The relationship blooms in spite of China's support for Palestinian Statehood and refusal to acknowledge that Hamas is a terrorist organization.

China has been involved with the Middle East since the time of the Roman Empire, and used the Silk Roads to trade throughout the area.  Mao Zedong recognized the Jewish State of Israel.  Subsequently China supported Yasser Arafat. The PLO opened an embassy in Beijing.   Deng Xiaoping reduced support for the PLO after the Camp David Accords. Following that, China continued support for Israel and established full diplomatic relations in 1992.   Deng's successors have followed in his footsteps.   Hu Jintao, CPR Secretary General, claims a balanced approach to dealing with the Israeli's and the Palestinians. 

Marking the 20th anniversary of Israel-China diplomatic relations (2012), the Israel Cabinet ratified an agreement that expands bilateral research and development projects.  China seeks Israel's expertise in solar energy, manufacturing, robotics, irrigation, and desalination technologies.  China plays an important part in the $10 billion kosher foods industry with over 500 factories across China producing kosher foods for American and Israeli markets.

Protocols were signed with lines of credit,   and grants for various projects.  Israel companies are setting up water projects in the Chinese provinces of Shaanxi, Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia and Xinjiang.   Agriculture and technology projects are underway, and over 200 joint Israel-China ventures in the medical and communications fields are being developed.

Military cooperation has increased between Israel and China.  It is estimated that China purchased $4 billion worth of Israeli arms last year, and is second only to Russia in military equipment to China.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak visited China in June. General Chen Bingde, Chief of the PLA General Staff was received with an honor guard in Tel Aviv.  In August vessels from the PLA 11th fleet led by Rear Admiral Yand Jun fei anchored at Haifa Naval Base.  He and Commander of the PLA Navy, Wu Shengli, were welcomed by Brigadier General Eli Sharvit. 

Israel Export Institute Director Avi Hefetz  reported "Non military Israel exports to China were more than $1 billion in the first half of last year; a 33% increase over the year before."  

Groups of Chinese dairy farm manager trainees go to Israel learning how to boost milk production through advanced systems for herd management, monitoring and feeding. 

A commercial algae farm was launched by Israel's Seambiotic clean tech company in China.  Algae ponds generate 30 times more feedstock than land based crop alternatives.   The plants also produce a popular Chinese food additive.

Chery is the biggest exporter of cars in China and also makes the QQ mini car.  Chery has teamed up with a start up Israeli car maker called Qoros.  The Joint venture plans to introduce a sedan in China next year.  They plan to produce about 150,000 units annually in a planned factory northwest of Shanghai.   

Following Israeli Cabinet approval for construction of a high speed train between Tel Aviv on the Mediterranean Sea, and Eilat on the Red Sea; an historic agreement to build the Eilat Railway, was signed between Israel and China.  The 180 kilometer electrified line with speeds up to 300 kilometers an hour will boast 63 bridges and five tunnels.  Travel time between Eilat and Tel Aviv will be around two hours. Estimated cost of $20 billion shekels will be financed through the China Development Industrial Bank; Israel will handle project operations.  Minister of transportation, Yisrael Katz opined "The professional capability of the Chinese companies in the construction of railway systems and transport is among the best in the world."  This will be a cargo and passenger line.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared "The Eilat Railway is a national priority, because of its strategic importance.  It will change the face of the country. This will be a line for the shipment of goods from Asia to Europe.  It has strategic, national, and international importance."  

Suggestions are rebuffed by Israeli officials that the railway plan is in response to the turmoil in Egypt, the rise of Islamic parties, and would reduce tariffs to Egyptian revenues.  Netanyahu calls it an insurance policy which provides a safeguard to bypass the Suez Canal. 

A pipeline which will  transport Israeli natural gas from Ashdod's Mediterranean Platforms of Tamar and Leviathan; to Eilat, on the Red Sea.   This will provide  direct access to Asia, and sidesteps the Strait of Hormuz; it is another joint venture with China.

Chinese New Year is February 10, 2013.

Lekhayim - Gong Hei Fard Choy - Xin Nian Kuai le - Happy New Year

Darlene Casella was, before her retirement, an English teacher, a stockbroker, and president/owner of a small corporation. She lives with her husband in La Quinta, California, and can be reached at thedeadseawest@aol.com.


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