Following immediately on the heels of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is leading a delegation to China, arriving on March 19, 2017, in order to discuss and enhance strategic and economic ties between the two countries.
Among the various topics to be discussed between Israel and China are science and aerospace cooperation. Accompanying the Israeli Prime Minister to China is the Israeli Minister for Science, Technology, and Space, Ofir Akunis, as well as other members of the Israeli cabinet and Israeli business executives.
Trade between Israel and China is currently estimated to be U.S.$11 billion a year, and is growing quickly. China represents a major market for Israeli companies, as well as a source of significant investment in the Israeli economy. Further, Israel is home to some of the world’s most advanced technology sectors in cyber security and satellite manufacturing, as well as being a global hub for science and technology research and development, making it an attractive economic and strategic partner for Israel.
Additionally, and much like Saudi Arabia, Israel is very keen to participate in China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) Eurasian infrastructure initiative that seeks to reestablish the ancient overland and maritime trade routes, known as the Silk Road, that connected China with the Mediterranean Sea and beyond. OBOR not only seeks to connect China, Europe, and all points in between, in the 21st century, bust also intends to establish space and digital ‘Silk Roads’ that will enhance both land- and maritime-physical infrastructure, as well as provide economic opportunities for growth in these sectors for all participating countries and companies.
The visit by the Israeli Prime Minister comes not long after a failed bid by the Beijing Xinwei Technology Group, a Chinese telecommunications company, to buy the Israeli satellite communications company Spacecom. The Chinese acquisition was scuppered after Spacecom’s AMOS-6 communications satellite was destroyed on its launchpad as the Space-X Falcon 9 rocket that was supposed to launch it accidentally blew up on September 1, 2016.