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Ambassador Zhan Yongxin Delivered the Keynote Speech at the Fourth Annual Conference on Israel's China Policy
2019/11/17

       On 14 November, Ambassador Zhan Yongxin delivered the keynote speech at the Fourth Annual Conference on Israel's China Policy. Ambassador Zhan talked about the achievements by the People's Republic of China over the past seven decades and updated the audience on the current development of China-Israel relations. Ambassador Zhan also rebutted the arrogance, prejudice and unfounded suspicions held by the west when they are observing China. The full text is as follows:

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

Good afternoon! It is my great pleasure to join you at the Fourth Annual Conference on Israel's China Policy. In Israel, it is easy to find a speech giver, but difficult to find an audience. So today I am privileged to share with our distinguished guests on my take about China, it's relations with Israel and the world.

My colleague told me that we had robust discussions in the morning about the opportunities and challenges for China and Israel in a changing world. Indeed, China is a trending topic. Israel, like many other countries, has an increasing appetite for China-related information, and the debate on how to deal with China is also gaining traction. There are many good suggestions but also unbalanced criticisms.

However, I believe no one would deny the fact that the People's Republic of China has achieved all-round development and is playing a more prominent role worldwide.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic. Momentous achievements were made with the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the relentless efforts of the Chinese people. According to researches, from 1913 to 1950, global GDP grew by 1.8% year on year, but for China, the economy shrunk by 0.02% annually. This was the beginning of the CPC's governance.

Over the 70 years, China's economy has grown from 60 billion to over 90 trillion RMB, becoming the second-largest economy and the largest contributor to global growth. China also ranks No.1 in terms of industrial output, trade in goods and forex reserves. Moreover, people's welfare was improved notably. Disposable income for average Chinese grew by 60 times. Over 800 million were lifted out of poverty. Average life expectancy increase from 35 to 77 years. China, once a country with 80% of its population illiterate, has built the largest higher education system in the world.

A growing China is also getting closer to the center of the world and taking up its responsibility as a major power. 70 years ago, the People's Republic was shut out of the western world. Today, it has broken the blockade and isolation, and become a member of almost every inter-governmental organization. As a staunching force of globalization, China is bringing more certainty to this uncertain world.

Take the Belt and Road Initiative for example. It has created over 300 thousand jobs for the participating countries and driven investment of over 150 billion US dollars. It is under the Belt and Road cooperation that the Maldives built its first cross-sea bridge, East Africa has the first expressway and the Piraeus Port of Greece returned to its glory as a Mediterranean hub.

Several days ago, the second China International Import Expo was successfully concluded. Over 3000 enterprises from more than 150 countries and regions participated in the event. As President Xi Jinping stated in the opening ceremony, China will adhere to its fundamental policy of opening-up and stay committed to promote reform, development and innovation. This will bring about the opening-up at an even higher level.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As a more open China actively engage with the world, the old friendship between China and Israel is injected with new energy.

-Political mutual trust has been enhanced. In 2017, our two leaders announced the establishment of China-Israel Innovative Comprehensive Partnership. It defines innovation as the link between our growth strategies and demonstrates that we see each other as long-term opportunities, not one-time expediency. Last year, we convened the fourth meeting of the Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation-JCIC and concluded the 3-year action plan on economy, trade, agriculture, health, transportation, etc.

-Win-win cooperation is flourishing. The trade has grown from 10.9 billion US dollars in 2014 to almost 14 billion US dollars in 2018. We are also working hard on the bilateral Free Trade Agreement. The Chinese side hopes to complete the negotiation in a short period of time, so as to give a new boost to our cooperation and bring more benefits to our people and businesses.

-People-people relations are growing on a fast track. 4 years ago, only El Al was operating direct flights between China and Israel. Now, the airlines like Hainan, Sichuan and Cathay Pacific have all joined this aviation network, making the trip faster, more affordable and more comfortable. From 2015 to 2018, the number of Chinese visiting Israel almost tripled from less than 50 thousand to 139 thousand. And we expect this number to reach 150 thousand this year. In 2017, the Chinese Culture Center opened in Tel Aviv. A new and effective channel was established for Israelis to understand more about China through its culture.

However, given Israel's territorial size, market volume, regional situation, the external pressure on China-Israel cooperation and the few well-known setbacks in our relations, Israel has yet to be a focus for the Chinese and its businesses. For example, China-Israel bilateral trade only accounts for 0.3% of China's total foreign trade, China's investment in Israel only represents 0.4% of China's global investment and Chinese tourists to Israel merely make up of 0.1% of China's outbound visits. These numbers fully demonstrate that we still have a lot to do to unleash the potential.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There is a saying goes in China that "tall trees catch much more winds". Talmud also tells us "even when you're minding your own business, your enemy feels threatened".

It is regrettable that a growing China and its dynamic cooperation with the world have been exploited by some people to defame and smear China' s image. The Belt and Road Initiative is labeled as a secret agenda to take over the world, win-win cooperation is vilified as Trojan Horses. Law-binding Chinese enterprises, industrious Chinese workers, quality and affordable Chinese products, as well as world-class Chinese projects, are all in their attacking list.

Our Jewish friends must find this propaganda quite familiar. Because it's almost the same when some people attacked a specific race and instigated racial hatred over the last few centuries.

History doesn't repeat itself but it often rhymes. The striking similarity between anti-Semitism and anti-China doctrine are rooted in the same ill mentality.

They all rise from arrogance and prejudice. "Ignorance is not a barrier to survival, but arrogance is". This is a famous quote of the award-winning sci-fi novel The Three-Body Problem. I believe it pinpoints the biggest mistake of the western world when trying to understand China.

Take the Hong Kong situation for example. For months, rioters have been storming government buildings, paralyzing public transportation and attacking police forces. Such actions are beyond tolerance in any civilized countries. However, the so-called reputable western media have turned blind eyes to all the violent crimes and heaped praises on the rioters. Is this the fair and objective report of free and democratic media?

Anti-China doctrine also rises from unfounded suspicions. It's followers has an obsession with conspiracy theories, claiming that China will seek dominance through the game of thrones and plant evil plots like those in the House of Cards.

These are all malicious speculations on China's development strategy. And there is a cure. Get down from the high horses, get away with the prejudice and observe China in a truly equal manner. In this way, I trust you will find that Israel, as well as the world, has nothing to fear of China.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Many of our guests are experienced China watchers, some of you must have read the Proclamation of the Founding of the People's Republic of China, our declaration of independence. The very last line of the document reads: "This government is willing to establish diplomatic relations with any foreign government that is willing to observe the principles of equality, mutual benefit, and mutual respect of territorial integrity and sovereignty".

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the bedrock of China's diplomacy that will never change. Since the very first day of the People's Republic, we have been throwing our arms wide to the world. We never pursue hegemony nor seek expansion. We respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other countries. We are ready to share our experience and provide the necessary assistance. We have no intention to export our model or to lecture others.

We pursue mutually beneficial cooperation. In this globalized world, countries all rise or fall together. A zero-sum mentality and beggar-thy-neighbour policy are recipes for failure. China is committed to an open economy. It is our aim to advance our development as part of the development of the global community. In the next 15 years, China will import 30 trillion US dollars of goods and 10 trillion US dollars of services. We want everyone, including Israel to have a share this huge cake.

The Middle East is still plagued by conflicts and confrontations. However, China believes it is a land of tremendous hope. Instead of looking for a proxy here, we promote peace talks; instead of seeking sphere of influence, we call on all parties to join the Belt and Road friends circle; instead of filling the "vacuum", we are committed to a network of win-win partnerships. In a word, we will continue to be a force of peace, growth and friendship.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In Chinese, we say "when everybody adds fuel the flames rise high". In Talmud, there is a similar saying, "if you lift the load with me, I will be able to lift it".

I wish the Conference a productive discussion and contribute more to the cooperation between China, Israel and the world.

Thank you!


Annual Conference on Israel's China Policy is jointly held by Sino-Israel Global Network & Academic Leadership (SIGNAL), Israel Council on Foreign Relations and the Chinese Embassy in Israel. Nearly 300 guests from Israel Foreign Ministry, think tanks, media as well as Dr. Xu Jian, President of the China Foreign Affairs University (CFAU), Mr. Efraim Halevy, former Mossad Director, and Colonel(ret.) Dr. Eran Lerman, former Deputy Director of National Security Council, participated in the Conference. The guests discussed a wide range of topics such as China-US relations, China-Israel Cooperation and China's Middle East policy.

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