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Ambassador Zhan Yongxin Gives a Live Interview to Ynet
2019/08/22

On 22 August, Ambassador Zhan Yongxin gave a live interview to Ynet, Israel's most popular news portal, on questions regarding economic and trade relations between China and Israel, American interference in China-Israel relations and etc. Here is the edited transcript:

Lead-in (translated from Hebrew): We like to work with the Chinese. Why? Because they help us develop infrastructure and technology at affordable prices. So the Chinese are here. They were just economic partners, but now they are participating in the building of such projects like Ashdod Port and Tel Aviv Light Rail. Some of these projects are of strategic importance. Now let's invite His Excellency Zhan Yongxin, Chinese Ambassador to Israel.

Question: Good morning Sir. Thank you for this interview. You are trying to calm us down right? You are trying to calm the Israelis not to be afraid of China. Tell me please, why should we be calm about the Chinese investment in Israel.

Ambassador: Good morning, thank you for having me on the program. Let me first give you a broad perspective of the cooperation between China and Israel. The economic and trade between our two countries is indeed flourishing. In 1992, when we established the diplomatic relationship, our bilateral trade volume was only US$ 50 million. In 2015, when I assumed the office in Israel, the number reached US$ 10 billion. Last year, the total trade volume was about US$ 14 billion. However, if we put the numbers into perspective, our trade is only 0.3% of China's trade with the world. There is still a lot of potential in our relations.

Question: However, Mr Zhan, China is taking control of vital infrastructure in Israel, like the Ashdod port, the light rail in Tel Aviv. Isn't that dangerous for Israel?

Ambassador: Regarding the infrastructure projects, I believe they combine China's expertise with Israeli demands. As far as I know, Chinese companies are invited to participate in the projects. And their contracts are awarded through the transparent international bidding process. Once all these projects are completed, they will leave Israel with world-class facilities and enable everyone living here to have better lives. I believe this is a very good example of the win-win cooperation that China has been advocating.

Question: Ambassador, there is great pressure coming from Washington D.C., and the Americans are saying that the Chinese are working behind the scenes to influence politically and economically of different states. Are you doing that? Can we, as Israelis, be calmed as China has no other intentions but helping, investing and doing businesses.

Ambassador: First I would like to say that all the Chinese companies are independent market entities, and most of them are publicly listed, so they don't have to report to me or the government regarding all the operational details. I have had the opportunities to visit their working sites, and they are working very hard. You know, in Israel, the weather is very hot. But all these companies have been performing their part of contact duties in a professional and experienced manner. China is not interested in harming Israel's special relationship with other countries, but the win-win cooperation between our two countries should also be respected.

Question: What is your final goal in Israel?

Ambassador: What do you mean by "final goal"?

Question:What is the goal of the Chinese government in Israel. What is it that you are trying to achieve?

Ambassador: We want to build a very good relationship with Israel. China and Israel are separated by a vast continent, but the Chinese and the Jewish people have been enjoying good relations and friendship for a long time. As early as the 8th century, a few Jewish people came to China via the ancient Silk Road. From then on, China has always been a country where the Jewish people can live a peaceful and prosperous life. It is very important that we build upon this foundation and push the friendship between our two peoples and two countries forward. This is the goal of me myself as the Ambassador, and I think it is also the shared goal of the two governments.

In 2017, the leaders of our two countries announced the establishment of the China-Israel Innovative Comprehensive Partnership. It highlighted the unique strengths of our two countries. China is a huge market and a strong manufacturing power. Israel is a start-up nation. We can work together and bring more opportunities to our businesses, our peoples and even to the world.

Question:Thank you Ambassador, thanks for talking with us.

Ambassador: Thank you.

Lead-out (translated from Hebrew):There is no doubt that Ambassador Zhan just did a good job. He told us that the Chinese are not doing anything wrong. China is developing strong ties with not only Israel but also many other countries in Africa and the Middle East. And we just saw how a Chinese diplomat performs his duty.

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