Premier Li Keqiang meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 20 in Beijing.[Photo/Xinhua]
“We could focus on cooperation in the field of innovation,” said Premier Li Keqiang.
“I am absolutely interested. I absolutely believe that such a mechanism will absolutely bring benefits for us,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
This was an interaction between the two leaders on March 20 at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, where they held a meeting and exchanged views on issues ranging from innovative cooperation in science and technology to negotiation on free trade areas (FTA) and infrastructure construction.
Almost every time one of the leaders made a suggestion, the other responded immediately in support or agreement.
Netanyahu, who is making a special visit to China, led a business delegation of more than 90 experts and professionals, which was regarded as the biggest in Israel’s history, and his trip was described as “a giant step toward more business opportunities for Israel”.
“China is ready to promote bilateral relationship to a higher level, thus bringing more benefits for the two peoples,” Premier Li said.
Coop in technological innovation to go even further
Before the meeting, Premier Li held an indoor welcoming ceremony for Netanyahu.
“We planned to hold a more grand ceremony to welcome you, but unluckily, it rained,” said Premier Li. “However, as a Chinese saying goes, the rainfall in spring is as precious as oil, so thank you for bringing the rain, which is a good sign of harvest in agriculture.”
“The saying also applies to Israel,” Netanyahu responded. “I should thank you for your hospitality, and the indoor welcoming ceremony is grand enough,” he added.
Premier Li said that both China and Israel are great nations in the world, and Israel is at the forefront of technological innovation. Deepening bilateral cooperation in this field is of great significance for bilateral economic development and could use the wisdom of people on both sides.
“I totally agree! In the ‘technological era’, we should explore more possible cooperation, with an aim of boosting the future development of the two ancient nations,” said Netanyahu.
He also expressed that Israel is willing to take advantage of its own technological edge, strengthening mutually beneficial cooperation with China in the field of intelligent automobiles, modern medical treatment, clean energy, communications, marine fisheries, agriculture and water conservation.
Premier Li responded that China is willing to promote cooperation between enterprises of the two countries, and hopes Israel could invest in medium-, small- and micro-sized Chinese enterprises.
“We have had many years of cooperation in scientific and technological innovation, and now we should go further,” the Premier said.
“We have no obstacle in this regard! I hope we can build a ‘fast track’ to facilitate our innovative cooperation,” Netanyahu answered.
“I agree,” Premier Li responded, adding, “We will jointly announce a statement for the innovative partnerships and speed up the establishment of a green channel for cooperation”.
China also welcomes more high-tech products from Israel. “I believe that our cooperation is not only beneficial for both sides, but can also bring hopes for the development of other countries in the world through promoting third-party market cooperation,” said the Premier.
Netanyahu immediately appointed a minister who accompanied him to discuss third-party market cooperation with Chinese enterprises.
China-Israel free trade zone
Another important topic of the meeting is the China-Israel free trade zone.
“Since the last global financial crisis, anti-globalization and protectionism have risen from time to time. However, we should stick to the principles of economic globalization and free trade,” Premier Li said.
He hoped to speed up negotiations on the free trade zone. “It will send a clear signal to the world that we maintain free trade,” he said.
Netanyahu said that he agreed with Premier Li and expressed interest in wrapping up negotiations as soon as possible. “Our free trade pact will benefit both countries. Israel is a good partner with China, not a competitor,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu also talked about China’s contributions for Jewish people in World WarⅡ. “We will never forget the generous help by Chinese people to us in the dark days of World WarⅡ.”
Premier Li quoted a Chinese TV series called The Last Visa, which tells the story about Chinese diplomats to Austria who spared no efforts in granting visas for Jews before World WarⅡ, and said, “Chinese people have a close friendship with Jews in history. We should pass the friendship on.”
At the end of the meeting, Netanyahu invited Premier Li to visit Israel.