By H.E. Zhan Yongxin, Chinese Ambassador to Israel
Your Excellency Mr. Ofir Akunis, Minister of Science, Technology and Space,
Your Excellency Mr. Erel Margalit, Chairman of the Israel-China Friendship Group of the Knesset,
Your Excellency Mr. David Levy, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good evening! Erev Tov!
Today, we are here to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Israel. First of all, I would like to express my high respect and sincere gratitude to all those who have dedicated and contributed to the growth of China-Israel friendship.
The exchanges between the Chinese and Jewish peoples date back to more than 1000 years ago. We always respect, admire, and sympathize each other. In the darkest days of WWII, our two peoples offered mutual support and assistance. On 24th January 1992, H.E. Mr. Qian Qichen, then State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China, and H.E. Mr. David Levy, then Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Israel, signed the Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between China and Israel, which opened a new chapter in the history of our two great nations. Since then, we have seen expanding bilateral exchanges and cooperation, and growing mutual understanding and friendship between our two peoples.
In the past 25 years, many high-level visits took place between our two countries. We also established two governmental mechanisms supervising bilateral cooperation, namely China-Israel Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation and China-Israel Intergovernmental Economic and Technological Cooperation Mechanism.
In the past 25 years, our economic and trade cooperation developed rapidly. Now China is Israel’s largest trading partner in Asia and third largest in the world. Our trade volume surpassed $11 billion. China’s market is open to Israel. From January to November last year, Israel’s export to China increased by 15.7%. Our pragmatic cooperation has expanded from agriculture in the early days to desalination, food, sport, culture, chemical industry, cyber technology, etc. China’s investment to Israel has reached more than $6 billion. Last year, we started negotiations on FTA, in the good will to further boost our economic and trade cooperation.
In the past 25 years, our people-to-people exchanges flourished as well. In 1992, it was hard to see Chinese tourists in Israel. In 2016, nearly 80,000 Chinese came to visit Israel, with a 69% increase compared with 2015. On the other hand, “Happy Spring Festival” and other Chinese cultural activities like Dragon Boat Race also enrich the Israeli cultural life. The opening of more direct flight and the implementation of 10 year multi-entry visas will further promote exchanges and strengthen friendship between our two countries.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Two years ago, when I assumed office, I was looking forward to further promoting our bilateral relations into a more steady, more concrete and more deepening dimension. I mentioned that it was time for us to interpret planning into action and transform expectation into reality. Two years have passed, some expectations have turned into reality, some not yet. So, we shall roll up our sleeves to work harder in the coming years. Our experience in the past 25 years tells us that mutually beneficial and pragmatic cooperation is the best way for us to get along with each other, and it serves our common interests.
Four days later is the Chinese New Year of the Rooster, which means auspiciousness, hope, and happiness. Please allow me here to wish you all health and success in the new year, and more achievements of our bilateral cooperation!
Thank you!Tada Raba!