Carice Witte, JCPA
- In recent years, the world has witnessed China’s growing involvement in the international arena – whether through its veto in the UN Security Council, its military conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden and contributing to peacekeeping missions in Africa and the Middle East, buying U.S. and EU debt, or its declaration that the South China Sea is an integral part of China.
- In the minds of the Chinese, Jews retain a highly respected status as a people who have survived over the millennia against all odds and have attained achievements that belie their miniscule numbers. The Chinese take great pride in Shanghai’s status as one of the only cities in the world that accepted Jewish refugees during World War II.
- In the 12th Five-Year Plan, published in 2011, China’s leadership announced a national intention to raise the country from being the world’s factory to becoming a leading innovator. This new focus led the Chinese to seek the potential contribution of Israel – the “Start-Up Nation.”
- Interactions between China and Israel had risen significantly over the years but had remained largely “off the record,” due to the Arab nations’ strong influence on the PRC leadership’s public approach to Israel. In 2011 this began to change. Five formally acknowledged Israel Studies Programs were established across China, and in September, China’s most powerful political body – the Communist Party – expressed a formal interest in Israel’s political echelons in a public fashion by participating in the first-ever China-Israel Strategy and Security Symposium at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.
- Despite its close ties with the Arab world, China was caught completely off guard by the Arab Spring. They were devastated by the $20 billion in losses they suffered with the fall of Gaddafi, hammering home their lack of understanding of the Middle East. In their search for accurate and reliable information, leading academics began to seek out Israel, an island of stability whose geographic proximity to the Arab Spring offers unique access.
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