President Reuven Rivlin and Chinese VPM Liu Yandong. (Mark Neiman/GPO) (Mark Neiman/GPO)
President Reuven Rivlin and Chinese VPM Liu Yandong

Israel’s and China’s leaders stressed the close cooperation between the two countries ahead of signing a free-trade agreement.    

The budding bonds between China and Israel were highlighted Tuesday as President Reuven Rivlin met with Vice Premier of China Liu Yandong, who is in Israel for the Second Annual Israel-China Committee for Cooperation and Innovation.

Rivlin noted the importance of the two countries’ strengthening of their bilateral ties and of the agreements signed between Israel and China on Tuesday.

Rivlin stressed Liu ‘s “important role” in the relationship between the two countries.

“It is important for us to host you here and discuss the strengthening ties between our two countries. We know that we have cooperation in a range of fields. Our two countries are known for our abilities in cyber and innovation, and the cooperation between our peoples is in the mutual interest of China, Israel and the entire world,” said Rivlin.

Rivlin added that “China is playing a great role and you have a lot of influence in the Middle East, and while we may from time to time not agree on everything, we are pleased to strengthen the relationship and the understanding between us.”

In January, China called for the establishment of a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 borders, with “East Jerusalem” as the capital, to Jerusalem’s chagrin. Similarly, China has been a staunch supporter and financier of the Islamic Republic.

Liu thanked Rivlin for his warm welcome and said and she was “deeply touched” by Israel’s “warm hospitality.”

“You have always attached great importance to the China-Israel relationship, and we appreciate your contribution to the friendship between our nations,” she told Rivlin.

Israel and China are set to sign a number of agreements on education, culture, science and technology, healthcare and intellectual property.

Liu is also slated to attend the first China-Israel forum of university presidents and a healthcare symposium.

“Israel is an important country in the Middle East with its own distinct features and China takes Israel very seriously,” Liu declared.

The trade between Israel and China has developed considerably over the past decade, growing from $50 million annually in 1992, to $11 billion in 2013. China was Israel’s second closest trading partner in 2014.

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,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated in May 2014. A year earlier, Netanyahu visited China to advance Israeli-Chinese relations.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel

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