Israel and China on Monday agreed to expand cooperation between their two countries, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcoming Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong to his Jerusalem office where they signed an accord.
In a statement, Netanyahu said Monday’s agreement came a year after his visit to China, where he met Chinese President Xi and Premier Li, listing the many ways cooperation has expanded since then.
“China is Israel’s largest trading partner in Asia and fast becoming perhaps Israel’s largest trading partner period as we move into the future,” Netanyahu said. “We see the great success of China. We admire China and we think there are complementary things that Israel brings to this relationship. One of them is innovation.”
Netanyahu said the agreement is “for expanding innovation in cooperative efforts between our two countries and equally our Health Minister will sign an agreement to help advance our cooperation in times of emergencies.”
“There’s a natural affinity and friendship between the ancient people of China and the ancient people of Israel,” he said. “We are both rooted in great traditions, but we also are absolutely determined to seize the future, and I welcome you in that spirit to Jerusalem and in the hopes of seizing the future together.”
Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong responded, “As you rightly pointed out, Mr. Prime Minister, our two peoples are rooted in a tradition of friendship. The Jewish and the Chinese peoples are peoples of great wisdom.”
She said, “We bracket Asia and we respectively created our splendid cultures that stretch thousands of years of history. And we both made enormous contributions to human civilization. Yesterday afternoon I visited the Israel Museum and also the Old City of Jerusalem and I was so amazed at the beauty of this country.”
“Especially during the Second World War, we fought shoulder to shoulder against the world’s fascism and we stood together through the dark time,” Liu said.
“In the past 20 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations, our two countries have enjoyed sound political relations and ever stronger practical cooperation, and the past two visits all agreed that we should expand our cooperation in fields including innovation to the mutual benefit of the two countries,” Liu said.
“So, this trip for me is truly a trip of learning,” she said. “I am here to learn from the best practices of Israel in science, technology and innovation. And this is also a trip of promoting cooperation. It is truly our hope that we will be able to bring our cooperation in all fields to new heights, and certainly it is indeed a trip of friendship and I am here to enhance the friendship between our peoples so as to increase our popular support for the growth of this relationship.”
As an aside, Vice Premier Liu told an anecdote from 1942 about her father, one of modern China’s founding generals, and a Jewish doctor who saved thousands of lives in Shanghai.
“I spent 18 years in Shanghai,” she said. “Actually, everywhere in Shanghai people tell the good stories of harmonious coexistence between the Chinese people and Jewish people.”
“I want to mention in particular here that in 1942, a Jewish doctor by the name of Jacob Rosenfeld came to a place in Shanghai where my father fought against the Japanese aggressors. And Dr. Rosenfeld and his team members saved the lives of thousands of Chinese people.”
“This is a group photo of Dr. Rosenfeld and this is my father here, and one of the founding generals of China, General Xin Yi, named Dr. Rosenfeld as one of the heroes against Japanese aggression,” she said. “Unfortunately in 1952, when Dr. Rosenfeld visited Israel, he passed away. So when my father was around, he vowed to visit Israel and to see the hometown of Dr. Rosenfeld to express his appreciation, and his dream was realized by his daughter.”