Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told The Times of Israel he foresees a further expansion of Israel’s relationship with China and that Israel has “a strong affinity for China.”

In comments made to mark Wednesday’s launch of The Times of Israel Chinese, our new website highlighting high-tech, innovation and other spheres central to Israeli-Chinese interaction, Netanyahu recalled his trip to Beijing in May of 2013, and the deepening ties between the two countries it heralded.

“We celebrate the growth of the Israeli-China relationship,” Netanyahu said. “A year ago, I visited China and had excellent meetings with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. Since then we have expanded our cooperation in many areas.”

Netanyahu, who last week hosted the visiting Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Liu Yandong, noted that “China is already Israel’s largest trading partner in Asia and the future holds even greater promise.”

China's Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu review an honor guard at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 8, 2013. (Photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO/FLASH90)

China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu review an honor guard at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 8, 2013. (Photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO/FLASH90)

Along with Liu, Israel last week played host to some 400 Chinese business and government officials for a week of conferences, summits and business deals.

Among the highlights was the announcement of a partnership between Tel Aviv University and Beijing’s Tsinghua University to invest $300 million to establish the XIN Research Center, intended to research early-stage and mature technologies in biotech, solar energy, water and environmental technologies. Last year Haifa’s Technion technology institute and Shantou University, in the southern Guangdong province, signed a smaller cooperation agreement valued at around $150 million. China’s state-owned Bright Food Group last week purchased a majority stake in Israel Tnuva Foods dairy conglomerate. Overall, trade between Israel and China reached $8.4 billion in 2013, compared with $6.7 billion in 2010, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and China's President Xi Jinping shake hands, May 9, 2013. (photo credit: Avi Ohayon/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and China’s President Xi Jinping shake hands, May 9, 2013. (photo credit: Avi Ohayon/Flash90)

Said Netanyahu to The Times of Israel: “We have a strong affinity for China. We see the impressive successes of China and believe that Israeli technology can complement China’s efforts to achieve even greater prosperity.”