China welcomes Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu (Photo : Getty Images)
China-Israel ties are strengthened after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. China welcomed the Israeli Prime Minister on Monday, just a few days after King Salman’s visit.
Deals amounting to as much as $65 million were signed during the Saudi Arabia king’s visit as China boosts its tentative engagement with the Middle East.
Despite China’s dependence on the region for oil, the country has traditionally played a minimal part in Middle East conflicts or diplomacy.
China has now been trying to increase its engagement in the region. For example, the country has depicted itself as an honest broker without the without the historical baggage the Americans and Europeans have in the region, in an effort to end the civil war in Syria.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang applauded Israel’s advances during a meeting in the Great Hall of People. Israel is a world leader in some technologies, he said.
"The Chinese people and the Jewish people are both great peoples of the world," the Premier said.
The Israeli Prime Minister said there was much to discuss in technology cooperation.
"And at the same time there is a great deal of convulsion in the world, including in our part of the world," Netanyahu said,
"And I would like to have the opportunity to exchange views with you and to see how we can cooperate together for the advancement of security, peace, stability, and prosperity," he added.
According to Deng Li, director-general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's West Asian and North African Affairs Department, China and Israel have come up to an agreement to increase free trade talks.
"Personally I am very confident and optimistic about the future of this free trade agreement," he said.
Deng added that the Chinese Premier had said the country does not have its own interests on the Palestinian issue and would like the problem to be resolved properly at an early date corresponding to United Nations resolutions and the international consensus.
Chinese representatives have occasional visits to Israel and the Palestinian Territories, but their efforts to intercede in the long-standing dispute remain minimal.
By tradition, China is also in good relations with Palestine.
However, the Middle East is troubled with risk for China. The Chinese are not that familiar with steering religious and political tensions which recurrently arise in the region.
China is also in good terms with Iran, who has distressed Israel with a nuclear program.
When asked whether Li and Netanyahu talked about intelligence sharing, Deng said: "You shouldn't ask me this question."
China-Israel ties, though not discussed often in public, remain strong.