China's vice president kicks off innovation summit in Israel
JERUSALEM (AP) â" Chinaâs vice president and Israelâs prime minister on Wednesday co-hosted a high-profile trade and innovation conference and toured an exhibition of Israeli technology start-ups together as the two countries worked to cement their fast-growing trade ties.
A quarter century after establishing diplomatic relations, Israel and China have become important trade partners, with China emerging as an eager customer of Israeli technology.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Chinese governmentâs choice to send Wang Qishan, a close confidant of President Xi Jinping, to co-chair this yearâs Israeli innovation summit âreflects the growing ties between our countries, our economies, our peoples.â
Wang praised Israel as an innovation hub that China hopes to learn from as it modernizes its fast-growing econo my.
âIsrael leads the world in electronics, information technology, modern medicine, and agriculture,â he said. âChina is still striving to achieve modernization.â
China has become Israelâs second largest trading partner, behind only the U.S. Israel exported $2.8 billion to China in the first half of 2018, an 80 percent jump from the previous year.
Netanyahu announced that the two countries will complete a free trade agreement next year, and that China plans to invest heavily in Israeli infrastructure, including new ports and a light rail.
Netanyahu also said he and Wang pledged to create professional training programs in agriculture, entrepreneurship and public health, allowing Israeli tech companies to penetrate the Chinese market. He stressed that China has made breakthroughs in intellectual property protection, likely attempting to assuage start-ups concerned about the piracy risks of working in China.
The leaders made no mention abou t Chinese trade policies that have created friction with the U.S. and Europe. Major trade partners have accused China of discriminating against foreign companies and forcing them to hand over crucial technology.
Israeli defense experts also have expressed concerns that Chinese participation in massive national infrastructure projects may pose a security risk, given Chinaâs close relations with Israelâs regional foes, such as Iran.
âWe have to be cautious about the types of things we sell to China,â said Dale Aluf, the director of research for Sino-Israel Global Network & Academic Leadership, a think tank that promotes closer Israeli-Chinese relations.
âDefense technology is off the table. But we can sell health care and sustainable development so thereâs no reason for America to be upset,â he said.
Wang is one of the most senior Chinese officials to visit Israel since the countries established diplomatic relations in 1992. Credited with orchestrating Chinaâs anti-corruption purge and shoring up support for the Communist party, he is widely considered to be the most powerful vice president in China.
Netanyahu and Wang toured exhibits by high-tech Israeli start-ups focused on self-driving cars, health care and agriculture. They were also attending an evening gala event and the opening of an Israeli innovation center on Thursday.Source: Google News Israel | Netizen 24 Israel