TEL AVIV (Oct. 19)
Persistent reports that Israel and the People’s Republic of China are moving toward some form of commercial contact, with possibly more significant relations in the offing, have been vigorously denied by both governments.
But they gained credence with the arrival here Wednesday of an unofficial Chinese trade delegation on a five-day private visit.
It is the first Communist Chinese delegation of any sort to come to Israel openly, using Chinese passports. The seven-member team is headed by Lo Chi Min, a Chinese with Belgian citizenship who has extensive ties with Peking.
The host is an Israeli businessman, Aviv Hirshenbein, who is the local representative of the ITC Investing and Trading Co., which is headed by Lo. ITC is half-owned by the Chinese government.
Although the delegation is not sponsored by any government, it apparently has permission from Peking to discuss business and trade prospects with Israelis. It is said to be interested chiefly in medical and electronic equipment and computers.
There have been reports recently that Israeli officials have made clandestine visits to China. The highest ranking Israeli said to have gone to Peking is Avraham Tamir, director general of the Foreign Ministry.
He refused to comment on the report. Premier Yitzhak Shamir has proposed criminal action against anyone leaking such stories.