More on Israel-China relations
Mar 15, 2012 | Ahron Shapiro
Burgeoning relations between Israel and China has been the focus of considerable attention in recent months, including from us here at AIJAC (see here and here)
Now Israeli journalist Oren Kessler has written a new piece which is a must read for anyone interested in this subject – it’s entitled “Shalom, Beijing” and appears in the American publication Foreign Policy this week.
It is full of interesting details and hits the mark on three counts: part historic overview, part current events and part strategic analysis. For instance, it reveals the surprising extent of the vast Kosher food industry in China:
As they mark 20 years of diplomatic relations, China and Israel are exchanging far more than florid praise. Bilateral trade stands at almost $10 billion, a 200-fold rise in two decades. China is Israel’s third-largest export market, buying everything from telecommunications and information technology to agricultural hardware, solar energy equipment, and pharmaceuticals. At least 1,000 Israeli firms now operate in China, home to a massive $10 billion kosher food industry that sends much of its output to Israel. Last September, the Israeli government announced Chinese participation in a rail project that would allow overland cargo transport through Israel’s Negev desert, bypassing the Suez Canal. Two months later, the Chinese vice minister of commerce announced the two countries were mulling a free trade agreement.
It seems that hardly a day goes by where there isn’t something new to report about the Israel-China relationship. Israel’s Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz told Globes on Wednesday that the deals between Israel and China that have been reported on in the media are only the tip of the iceberg.
“My trips to India and China primarily focused on efforts to encourage investment in the Israeli economy. I can tell you that, in the past two years, Chinese investment in Israel has increased multifold. The most famous investment is ChemChina’s $2.5 billion investment in Makhteshim Agan Industries Ltd., but there is also billions in other investments, some which are low profile.”