China’s Vice Premier, Liu Yandong visited Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday as part of a Chinese delegation visiting Israel.
The visit by the Chinese delegation is just the latest sign of warming ties between Jerusalem and Beijing. The delegation is expected to sign a number of free trade agreements with Israel during the trip.
Since the mid-1990s, bilateral trade between Israel and China has exploded, rising from $50 million annually in 1992, to $11 billion in 2013. As of 2014, China was Israel’s second closest trading partner.
In 2013 Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made a state visit to China ahead of a series of trade agreements between the two countries.
Rivlin welcomed Vice Premier Yandong noting the increasing cooperation between the two nations.
“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.
“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.”
Vice Premier Liu Yandong said she appreciated Rivlin’s “contribution to the friendship between” Israel and China, and expressed enthusiasm for the new opportunities created by her nation’s increasing ties with Israel.
“[W]e are going to sign a number of agreements on education, culture, science and technology, healthcare, and a range of other fields,” Yandong said. “I will also attend the first China-Israel forum of university presidents and attend a healthcare symposium. Israel is an important country in the Middle East with its own distinct features and China takes Israel very seriously."