The US based Freedom House think-tank has released the initial findings of its annual Freedom in the World report. The report analyses the state of political and civil freedoms, as well as the state of governance frameworks, in each country around the world, based upon a "combination of on-the-ground research, consultations with local contacts, and information from news articles, nongovernmental organizations, governments, and a variety of other sources."
While next year marks 25 years of bilateral ties between the two countries, and Chinese officials were unreservedly gushing over Israeli innovations in technology and modern weaponry, the Chinese are stumbling over their ideological commitments. As a Communist country sworn to a non-aligned vision of global social justice, Beijing is concerned about being viewed as too pro-Israel at the expense of the Palestinians.
Israel's satellite industry is in crisis after a SpaceX rocket carrying an advanced Israeli communications satellite exploded on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral, Florida last Thursday 1 September. The accident and the subsequent loss of the Israeli-built satellite has been described as a "crushing blow" to Israel Aerospace Industries.
It was mid-afternoon, mid-Ramadan. Other than one sleeping traveller, and a handful of workers, the mosque complex in Kaifeng, Central China, was deserted. It was an eerily quiet place in an otherwise bustling, noisy city.
I had come to the mosque with an energetic, enthusiastic member of one of the Jewish families which had thrived in that city for centuries.
The Kaifeng synagogue, which had served a community tracing its roots to the first millennia CE, had been destroyed by floodwaters nearly two centuries ago.
Surveying the post-war international system in 1952, Israel's founder David Ben-Gurion wrote that European hegemony was on the decline, and that it stood to be replaced eventually by Asia.
As would happen with many of his varied insights, this one, too, proved prophetic.
During my first trip to China in the summer of 1985, I visited English Corner in People's Park in Shanghai one Sunday afternoon. It's one of the places where young Chinese people used to practise their English with visiting foreigners. Officials from the university where I was teaching in Shanghai escorted me there, and a big crowd quickly gathered to talk with me - a tall, curly-haired foreigner - and pushed closer to shower me with questions.
Even as the Iran nuclear deal and the potential for rapprochement between Teheran and the West have inspired countless op-eds, China's budding relationship with Iran has gone relatively unremarked upon. But on Jan. 23, Chinese President Xi Jinping became the first world leader to visit Iran after the deal. Xi stated that he sought to open a "new chapter" in China's relations with Iran. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, "The Islamic Republic will never forget China's cooperation during [the] sanctions era."
Since Washington blocked some controversial Israeli arms sales to China in the late 1990s, Jerusalem and Beijing have progressively developed and deepened their economic, commercial and cultural ties. Israeli priorities are primarily bilateral, while China's eager demand for Israeli technology and know-how is a part of Beijing's global, multi-layered strategy for dealing with dependence on Middle East oil and energy supplies.
"Do the Jews Really Control America?" asked one Chinese newsweekly headline in 2009. The factoids doled out in such articles and in books about Jews in China - for example: "The world's wealth is in Americans' pockets; Americans are in Jews' pockets" - would rightly be seen to be alarming in other contexts. But in China, where Jews are widely perceived as clever and accomplished, they are meant as compliments.