In Beijing, Netanyahu looks to ‘marry Israel’s technology with China’s capacity’

On second day of state visit, prime minister, Chinese leaders agree on upgrading economic, tech cooperation

Raphael Ahren is a former diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong at an innovation gathering in Beijing, March 21, 2017. (Haim Tzach/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong at an innovation gathering in Beijing, March 21, 2017. (Haim Tzach/GPO)

BEIJING — On the second day of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit here, Israel and China took further steps to strengthen economic and scientific relations.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong said Beijing and Jerusalem had agreed to upgrade bilateral relations, including by forming an “innovative comprehensive partnership” meant to “bring the ties and the cooperation between the two countries to new heights,” according to the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.

“Innovation cooperation is a highlight of our bilateral relations,” Liu said at the conclusion of the third meeting of the China-Israel Committee on Innovation Cooperation, held at Beijing’s Diaoyutai State Guest House.

Liu said she had visited Israel twice and was “deeply impressed” by its culture of innovation.

“You’re a global leader in research and development,” she said.

Israeli and Chinese ministers and top officials signed 10 bilateral agreements in health, science, education, environmental protection and other areas.

“We want to marry our technology with China’s capacity,” Netanyahu said at the summit.

“We in Israel are eager to share with China our science and technology that can better the lives of all mankind, and the people of China,” he said.

Addressing dozens of Israeli and Chinese government officials, industry leaders, university presidents and private businesspeople, Netanyahu called on Beijing to accelerate the pace of negotiations over an Israel-China free trade agreement, which started exactly one year ago.

Netanyahu said that in today’s world everything is becoming technologized and that therefore all countries need to innovate. He hailed Israel’s startup scene, highlighting Intel’s recent acquisition for $15 billion of Jerusalem-based autonomous driving company Mobileye, adding that Israel is home to 500 additional companies “that do the same thing. A few years ago we had nothing.”

Israel and China both have old, rich histories and traditions, and are committed to improving themselves and advancing technological innovation, he said.

“We have deep roots, but we seek for the sky, for the future. And that means science and technology,” the prime minister added.

Before the meeting, Vice Premier Liu and Netanyahu visited a small exhibition highlighting some of the fruits of the committee’s previous meetings. One panel explained a collaborative research project between China’s National Center for Nanoscience and Technology and Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science on the catalytic reduction of CO2 into value-added chemicals with solar energy.

The summit was addressed by four Israeli ministers: Economy and Industry Minister Eli Cohen; Health Minister Yaakov Litzman; Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis; and Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin.

On the Chinese side, besides the vice premier, the meeting was addressed by Science and Technology Minister Wan Gang, Vice Health Minister Cut Lui, Vice Environmental Protection Minister Zhao Yingming, Vice Culture Minister Ding Wei.

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