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The Jerusalem Post Publishes Ambassador Zhan Yongxin's Article Entitled "Two Sessions Boost China-Israel Relations "

 On March 23rd, 2018, The Jerusalem Post, Israel's largest-circulation English newspaper, published Ambassador Zhan Yongxin's Article Entitled "Two Sessions Boost China-Israel Relations ". The full text is as follows:

   From March 5th to 20th 2018, the first session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) was successfully convened in Beijing. Almost simultaneously, the first session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the top political advisory body, was also held. The " two sessions" are the most important political events in China, serving as a window for the world to know more about what China is doing and will do in the future.

   During the "two sessions", the representatives from all walks of life discussed and decided the most important issues and achieved significant results, which will guiding China's future development and China-Israel friendly cooperation in the long run.

The most important thing is to elect the state leaders. Mr. Xi Jinping was re-elected the Chinese President, and Mr. Wang Qishan was elected the Vice President. Mr. Li Keqiang was once again nominated and approved as the Premier of the State Council (equivalent to the prime minister of the cabinet). Mr. Li Zhanshu was elected Chairman of the 13th NPC Standing Committee and Mr. Wang Yang , who visited Israel as the Vice Premier in 2015, was elected Chairman of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Additionally, the NPC session adopted a massive cabinet restructuring plan to make the government better-structured, more efficient and service-oriented.

Another important result is that the NPC approved landmark constitutional amendment. The NPC session enshrined Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era into the Constitution. The inclusion of Xi's thought into the country's fundamental law reflects the common aspiration of all Chinese people. The addition of Xi's thought has ensured the country's guiding theories to advance with the times. The amendment has enriched clauses on harmonious relations among different ethnic groups, and peaceful foreign policies, including the addition of building a community with a shared future for mankind.

What is the impact of these changes on China's development in the future?

First, China will stick to its current social system and policies. Since the establishment of the people's republic, China adheres to the socialist system. The great achievements China made in the past 70 years have proved that China has selected the right road of development. Socialism with Chinese Characteristics is suited to realities in China and win the support of Chinese people.

Second, China will stick to reform and opening up policy. This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening up. When delivering the government work report at the opening conference of the annual NPC session, Premier Li Keqiang stressed China would endeavor to make new breakthroughs in reform this year and continue to unleash and develop productive forces. China will increase its efforts to build a law-based and fair business environment for entrepreneurship and innovation, to transform and upgrade the real economy, and to support advanced equipment manufacturers to compete globally.

Third, China will stick to current road of development. We will stress more on innovative development. Over the past five years, innovation-driven development has yielded fruitful outcomes. China's investment in research and development (R&D) has grown at an average annual rate of 11%, ranking second in the world in scale. The contribution of technological advances to economic growth has risen from 52.2% to 57.5%. China will pay more attention to green development, so as to make the environment cleaner and healthier. China will stress more on open development and shared development. We want to develop together with all the other countries, including Israel.

Fourth, China will stick to the peaceful foreign policies. We will try to make friends with all the countries in the world. In the next couple of years, China will commit to the establishment of the new type of international relations which is characterized with mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation. China calls to build a community with a shared future for mankind. As a matter of fact, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) aims exactly to bring about that community, which is to share China's development opportunities with countries along the routes. It is neither a zero-sum game nor a one-man show. Rather, it is an invitation of development and prosperity open to all. Over a span of four years, BRI has grown into a major platform of cooperation for countries concerned to attain common development.

China's economy has maintained a fast and steady growth over the past five years: China's GDP has risen from 54 trillion (roughly USD 8.8 trillion) to 82.7 trillion RMB yuan (about USD 13 trillion), registering average annual growth of 7.1%, and its share in global economy has grown to roughly 15%, up from 11.4%. China's contribution to global growth has exceeded 30%. Business start-ups and innovation are thriving all over the country, and the average number of new businesses opened daily has risen from over 5,000 to more than 16,000. In 2017, GDP grew by 6.9% and personal income rose 7.3%. Around 13.51 million new urban jobs were created, and the jobless rate was the lowest in recent years. The total import and export value rose 14.2%. According to statistics released by the World Bank, China's ranking in the environment for doing business has moved up 18 places from 2013 to 78 in 2017 among more than 180 global economies.

China's development is beneficial not only to Chinese people but also to the Israeli people. China welcomes Israel to take the same fast development train together.

At present, China-Israel relations maintain a good momentum of development. Both sides see frequent exchanges and close contacts of high-ranking officials. Prime Minister Netanyahu paid a successful visit to China last March, the two sides announced the establishment of Innovative Comprehensive Partnership. Economic and trade cooperation between China and Israel develops rapidly. People to people and culture exchanges are becoming warmer and warmer. Thanks to the direct flights between Chinese big cities and Tel Aviv, nearly 140,000 Chinese people visited Israel in 2017. The Chinese Culture Center in Tel Aviv opened to the public last year, which would become another window for Israeli people to know more about China.

Currently, there are two pillars in China-Israel cooperation. One is economic cooperation and the other is innovation cooperation. Regarding economic cooperation, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) plays an important role. China is now Israel's largest trading partner in Asia and the third largest in the world. The two-way trade volume surpassed $13 billion in 2017, with a year-on-year growth rate of 15.6%. China has invested more than $6.5 billion in Israel and the number is still growing. The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiation is under way. There are many pragmatic cooperation between us in all areas, especially in infrastructure construction, investment, technology, innovation and agriculture.

For example, Pan-Mediterranean Engineering Co, Ltd. (PMEC) of China is the main builder of New Ashdod Port. When the New Ashdod Port project finishes, it will not only benefit Israeli people but also the countries around Eastern Mediterranean. China Railway Group Limited (CRGL) and China Civil Engineering Corporation (CCEC) are building light rail (namely Tel Aviv Red Line) in Israel, which will enable the Tel Aviv residents to enjoy the rapid and comfort public transportation and reduce the traffic jams. China's Sinohydro Corporation is building a Pumping Hydro-power station in Northeastern Israel, which will contribute to Israeli National Grid's stability and may spare the need to build additional conventional power station.

Regarding innovation cooperation, with its booming innovation and high technologies, Israel is a very important partner to China. Recent years have witnessed the relation between China and Israel is getting closer and more smooth. Israel is a well-known start-up nation, strong in creation and innovation, or from 0 to 1. China, with its strong manufacture capacity and huge market, is good at making 1 to 100. China's development will bring more and better opportunities to Israel. Nowadays, many Chinese IT companies like Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent are eyeing Israeli innovation technologies and start-ups. I believe there will be more investments from China to Israeli innovation.

After China's "two sessions" this year, reform and opening up will be further deepened. China will push for the high-quality development of the economy, optimize the business environment, and stimulate market vitality and creativity. We fully believe that both China and Israel will take the great opportunities, pushing the bilateral cooperation to new heights. Both China and Israel will harvest great benefits for its own economic development and people's well-being.

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