Reports of Increased Ties Between Israel and China

Signs have proliferated in recent days that Israel and the People’s Republic of China are moving toward trade agreements and other forms of cooperation, though formal diplomatic relations still seem beyond the horizon.

According to Haaretz, the director general of the Foreign Ministry, Avraham Tamir, made a secret visit to Peking this year and reached an agreement with Chinese officials to expand economic ties and proceed toward diplomatic relations.

Tamir admitted “there have been contacts,” but refused to comment on his reported trip.

The Chinese government has denied there are any plans for expanded relations with Israel.

To some China-watchers, the denial may signify just the opposite.

The Haaretz report said a representative of an Israeli coal company will leave for Peking within a week to discuss buying coal from China.

The Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure recently received a proposal to buy oil from that country, and passed it on to an Israeli fuel company, Haaretz said.

The proposal was conveyed by a new trading company, which was established to examine the possibility of economic cooperation between Israel and China.

Al Hamishmar reported that the first official economic delegation from China will visit Israel next week.

It was reported earlier this week that China had agreed to allow Israel to open an academic liaison office in Peking, which would also deal informally with economic projects and business issues.

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