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February 17, 2014 12:57 am

When Beijing Met Jerusalem: Chinese Activity in Israel Expands Dramatically

avatar by Gidon Ben-zvi

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admiring technological innovation during an official visit to China in May, 2013. Photo: Israel GPO.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admiring technological innovation during an official visit to China in May, 2013. Photo: Israel GPO.

Over the past year, Chinese activity in Israel has expanded dramatically, Israel’s Channel 10 reported on Saturday.

For example, Israel’s largest food company Tnuva announced this week that it is in advanced negotiations with a Chinese firm that is seeking to invest nine billion dollars in exchange for a controlling stake in the company. The news generated strong criticism among Israeli farmers, according to the report.

Beyond business ventures, Chinese fingerprints are increasingly appearing across a variety of disciplines including national infrastructure projects, commerce, finance, real estate, hi tech, and even academia, Channel 10 said.

While the Israeli government has promoted Chinese investment in Israel as a welcome development that will help ensure economic prosperity, there could be a heavy price to pay for this invasion from the East, according to the report.

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Nadav Tavol, who is leading Israeli company Danya Cebus’s collaboration with China-based CCECC on the construction of the Acre-Carmiel railway tunnel, says that the Chinese work ethic is tough to compete against.

Tavol said that, “They [the Chinese] have the ability to work, the desire to work, and will always hit their targets, even if it means working around the clock.”

According to Tavol, Israeli workers simply, “…aren’t there yet and may never be.”

Nonetheless, Dr. Yoram Evron, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies, said, “The Chinese leadership feels that Israel and the Jewish people have certain advantages and capabilities that can be learned from.”

Israel’s Economy Minister Naftali Bennett has referred to Beijing’s flowering interest in Jerusalem as nothing less than a “blessing.” The Israeli leader is also confident that China’s reputation for not respecting international patent laws or allowing the rightful owners of intellectual property to be compensated for their work will pass in time. “China and its legal system will eventually become more westernized and develop a greater respect for the law,” he said.

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