Many people are familiar with the number six million in the context of World War II—the number of Jews murdered in the Holocaust. On Wednesday night at the Cinematek theater, guests of the Philippines Embassy in Israel were introduced to a new number—1,300, the number of Jews saved during the war by the Philippines government and people.

The event, timed to coincide with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, included a private screening of the documentary “An Open Door: Holocaust Haven in the Philippines” by producer Noel Izon.

 

 

This month marks the 25th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and the State of Israel. And this year in the traditional Chinese calendar begins the Year of the Rooster, which symbolizes good fortune and bright future.  

 

The Chinese Embassy in Israel held a series of activities celebrating both occasions.

 

The first event took place last week at the Suzanne Dellal Centre in cooperation with the Embassy of the People's Republic of China and the Ministry of Culture of China. "Shaolin," a fabulous performance, was held in the presence of the Chinese Minister of Culture, followed by a reception.

 

This week the Chinese Ambassador  H.E Zhan Yongxin held a reception with a fantastic performance of the China National Ballet Liaoning, under Mme. Qu Zijiao at the Herzliya Performing Arts Center. The host of the reception was Counsellor Cai Weiming, the deputy head of the mission. The national anthems of both China and Israel were played.

 

The Chinese Ambassador opened the formalities by greeting the guests (The full text of the ambassador’s remarks appears below.) Then Israel’s Minister of Science and Technology, MK Ofir Akunis and Member of Knesset in the Israeli Parliament, Erel Margalit, thanked Ambassador Zhan, and they were invited to sign three post cards featuring new stamps with the Menorah and Shofar symbols commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and the State of Israel. 

 

 

 

 

The guests of honor at the event included former Minister of Foreign Affairs David Levy, Israel’s Ambassador to China Matan Vilnai, former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Orit Noked , Ambassador Meron Reuben - FM Protocol Chief , Itzhak Eldan – former Israel’s head of ceremony, Professor Dan Shechtman, Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2011 and many other distinguished guests.

 

www.diplomacy staff wishes a Happy Chinese New Year! Enjoy the celebrations for the Year of the Rooster!

 

 

 

Ambassador Yongxin’s remarks:

 

Remarks

At the Reception to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of China-Israel Diplomatic Relations

And the Chinese New Year

By H.E. Zhan Yongxin, Chinese Ambassador to Israel

Jan. 23rd, 2017

 

Your Excellency Mr. Ofir Akunis, Minister of Science, Technology and Space,

Your Excellency Mr. Erel Margalit, Chairman of the Israel-China Friendship Group of the Knesset,

Your Excellency Mr. David Levy, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister,

 

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear friends,

Good evening! Erev Tov!

 

Today, we are here to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Israel. First of all, I'd like to express my high respect and sincere gratitude to all those who have dedicated and contributed to the growth of China-Israel friendship.


The exchanges between the Chinese and Jewish peoples date back to more than 1000 years ago. We always respect, admire, and sympathize each other. In the darkest days of WWII, our two peoples offered mutual support and assistance. On 24th January 1992, H.E. Mr. Qian Qichen, then State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China, and H.E. Mr. David Levy, then Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Israel, signed the Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between China and Israel, which opened a new chapter in the history of our two great nations. Since then, we have seen expanding bilateral exchanges and cooperation, and growing mutual understanding and friendship between our two peoples. Today, we are very happy to have Mr. David Levy join us. Mr. Levy, thank you!

 

In the past 25 years, many high-level visits took place between our two countries. We also established two governmental mechanisms supervising bilateral cooperation, namely China-Israel Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation and China-Israel Inter-governmental Economic and Technical Cooperation.  

 

In the past 25 years, our economic and trade cooperation developed rapidly. Now China is Israel’s largest trading partner in Asia and third largest in the world. Our trade volume surpassed $11 billion. China’s market is open to Israel. From January to November last year, Israel’s export to China increased by 15.7%. Our pragmatic cooperation has expanded from agriculture in the early days to desalination, food, sport, culture, chemical industry, cyber technology, etc. China’s investment to Israel has reached more than $6 billion. Last year, we started negotiations on FTA, in the good will to further boost our economic and trade cooperation.

 

In the past 25 years, our people-to-people exchanges flourished as well. In 1992, it was hard to see Chinese tourists in Israel. In 2016, nearly 80,000 Chinese came to visit Israel, with a 69% increase compared with 2015. On the other hand, “Happy Spring Festival” and other Chinese cultural activities like Dragon Boat Race also enrich the Israeli cultural life. The opening of more direct flight and the implementation of 10 year multi-entry visas will promote further exchanges and strengthen friendship between our two countries.

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

Two years ago, when I assumed office, I was looking forward to further promoting our bilateral relations into a more steady, more concrete and more deepening dimension. I mentioned that it was time for us to interpret planning into action and transform expectation into reality. Two years have passed, some expectations have turned into reality, some not yet. So, we shall roll up our sleeves to work harder in the coming years. Our experience in the past 25 years tells us that mutually beneficial and pragmatic cooperation is the best way for us to get along with each other, and it serves our common interests.  

 

 

Four days later is the Chinese New Year of the Rooster, which means auspiciousness, hope, and happiness. Please allow me here to wish you all health and success in the new year, and more achievements of our bilateral cooperation!

 


Thank you! Toda Raba!

 

 

Photos : Silvia G Golan

 

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The establishment of diplomatic relations with China and, a week later, with India, opened up the gates of Asia to Israel, which continues to reap the benefits of these relations up to today.

 

 

This week, Israel and the People’s Republic of China mark 25 years of diplomatic relations. On 24 January 1992, in Beijing, the respective foreign ministers, David Levy and Qian Qichen, signed the agreement establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries.
 
The establishment of diplomatic relations with China and, a week later, with India, opened up the gates of Asia to Israel, which continues to reap the benefits of these relations up to today.
 
The strong link between the Israeli and Chinese peoples is an ancient one, dating from the Jewish community in Kaifeng a thousand years ago. Jewish communities prospered also in Harbin, Tianjin and Shanghai, where thousands of Jews found refuge from the Nazis during World War II.
 
The relations between the two peoples, then and now, were and still are based on mutual appreciation and respect. Both peoples come from ancient cultures that succeeded in preserving their unique character and their moral heritage throughout thousands of years of history.
 
Israel recognized the People’s Republic of China in January 1950, the first state in the Middle East to do so. Nevertheless, diplomatic relations were only established in January 1992. Since then, the two states have enjoyed cooperation in a variety of areas, reaching new heights in recent years.
 
In light of China’s increasing importance in the world, the Israeli Foreign Ministry has invested effort and resources in enhancing our relations. Israel opened two missions in China – one in Guangzhou and one in Chengdu, in addition to the embassy in Beijing and the consulate in Shanghai – with a corresponding increase in the number of Foreign Ministry staff serving in the country.
 
For the last two years, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has led an intergovernmental committee for innovation that includes about ten governmental ministries and agencies from each country. The committee is chaired by PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu Yandong. Under a three-year plan signed in 2014, every government ministry in Israel promotes, together with its Chinese counterpart, joint projects in innovative research, science, academia, agriculture and health.
 
The third meeting of the Israel-China innovation committee will take place in the presence of senior officials at a festive gathering also marking 25 years of relations.
 
An additional governmental platform is the Israel-China economic task force, headed by the Israeli PM’S Office and China’s National Development and Reform Commission. A three-plan plan is expected to be signed in the course of the year.
 
Mutual trade, which stood at $50 million at the time relations were established, has now reached more than $11 billion. China is Israel’s third-largest trade partner in the world, and its largest partner in Asia; more than a third of hi-tech investments in Israel during the past year came from China. Negotiations have begun on a free-trade agreement that will significantly increase these numbers.
 
As part of a government decision to strengthen ties with China, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs initiated and is the driving force behind a program to bring young Chinese leaders to Israel, with an emphasis on innovation cooperation. The program was launched at the beginning of 2016 and so far, 27 delegations have come from leading bodies in China. The program is meant to continue for three years and will help build a strong foundation of ties with the next generation of Chinese leaders.
 
Israeli missions in China have helped to open doors for Israeli academia. There is broad cooperation on research projects, and the biggest Chinese universities are opening innovation centers in cooperation with Israeli universities (for instance, the innovation center of Tsinghua – China’s leading university – that was established at Tel Aviv University). The Technion chose to open a branch – only its second branch outside Israel – in the city of Shantou in South China; the new campus should be finished by the end of this year.
 
Another move by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to remove barriers to bilateral cooperation was advancement of a reciprocal agreement to grant ten-year business and tourist visas. Israel was the third country – after the US and Canada – to sign such an agreement with China.
 
Another important development was the start of direct flights between Tel Aviv and Beijing on Hainan Airlines, China’s leading airline, in addition to the El Al direct flight on the same route. 
 
All of these factors contributed to the doubling of the number of tourists and businesspersons (totaling about 80,000) who visited Israel in 2016.
 
Israeli diplomatic staff in China is using traditional and social media to promote Israel’s image as a leader in technology and innovation. The Israeli embassy was rated a few weeks ago as the foreign embassy in Beijing with the highest number of followers (close to two million regular followers).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

President Reuven Rivlin met this morning (Wednesday), at his residence with ambassadors and charges d'affaires to Israel from countries in the Asia-Pacific, including; Australia, India, South Korea, Philippines, China, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Japan, Myanmar, and Nepal. 

 

 He told the Ambassadors, “It is my privilege to host, and meet with all of you here in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, not just because of the long histories our peoples share, but because Asia is the present and the future. Your countries’ are working to develop new innovation, and we are all greatly impressed and appreciate this.”

 

Speaking of the importance of the bilateral and multilateral cooperation, the President said, “In the last decade we have increased the trade relationship between our peoples. Today, 27 percent of Israel’s trade is now with the Asia-Pacific. The cooperation is wonderful and we are looking to extend our partnerships with every one of you, and all together.”

 

He noted he was especially proud of the academic cooperation between Israel and the countries represented, and of the exchange of students as a way to bring peoples closer together.

 

"We know that events that happen on one side of the world impact on the other," added the President, and stressed, "We must all stand up, and cooperate against those who believe that fundamentalism is the only way. We have to be prepared to carry the burden of security which lies upon us, especially in the face of those who do not accept the very idea of Israel as a state.”

 

Speaking on behalf of the delegation, Ambassador of Australia Dave Sharma thanked the President for his warm welcome and insights into the situation. He said, “We have here a diverse groups of countries, united around a couple of themes; support for the security of Israel and the well-being of the people of Israel; an appreciation of what Israel has achieved in its short history; and a deep appreciation for the unique struggles you face here.” He added, “I want to offer my thanks to you personally Mr. President, for the generosity of your time and involvement in our part of the world. You have visited many of our countries; as President, and as a Minister and Speaker of Knesset. We appreciate your support for the growing trade relations with our countries, and also your support for pluralism and equal rights for all peoples.”

 

 

Photo credit: Mark Neiman (GPO)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the early hours of the morning of the 17th January 1945, Raoul Wallenberg disappeared. He had been a consular official at the Swedish Legation in Budapest, Hungary. He was never heard from again.

 

Raoul Wallenberg was not Jewish. He worked at the Swedish Diplomatic Mission in Budapest with one purpose in mind; to save as many Jews as possible from the Nazi death machine. He not only issued thousands of visas a “safe passes”, but empowered by his diplomatic immunity, he worked relentlessly in the face of the Nazis as they tried to deport Hungarian Jews to the death camps.

 

I was honored to be invited yesterday – the 17th January – to a ceremony at the official residence of the Swedish Ambassador to Israel, H.E. Carl Magnus Nesser, to honor the late hero. The central event was the screening of a short documentary film: “The Survivors in Budapest: Interviews with Persons Saved by Raoul Wallenberg”. Four Israelis, all former Hungarians, who survived and lived to tell the tale. The interviews were bone-chilling as they recounted what they as children has seen, heard, felt and experienced – and how the brave Wallenberg saved them – and thousands more. The four were in the audience with us. Living flesh and blood, now mothers and fathers, grandparents, great-grandparents – survivors.

 

Ambassador Nesser addressed the gathering, first in faultless Hebrew (!) which he has learned in his four years in Israel, and then in English. Also addressing the gathering was Danny Rainer, head of the Israeli representation of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.

 

The Ambassador and the Embassy of Sweden in Tel Aviv are to be commended for arranging this event. The memory of Raoul Wallenberg will live on. May it be for a blessing for us all.

 

 Photo credit: Eva Taylor.