TEL AVIV (Dec. 28)
Reflecting expanding links between Israel and China, President Chaim Herzog this week paid an official three-day visit to Beijing.
The Israeli president met with top government officials and invited Chinese Premier Li Peng to visit Israel. The invitation was accepted, but no date for the visit has been fixed.
Herzog was due to pay a private visit Monday to Shanghai, where thousands of Jews found refuge during World War II. He planned to affix plaques to the walls of two buildings that served as synagogues.
Reporters accompanying the president report the Chinese Communist government refused to allow mention in the plaques of Herzog’s participation in the ceremony.
The president was to fly to the large port city from Beijing in an official government plane. He traveled to China aboard a private Boeing jet placed at his disposal by Israeli tycoon Shaul Eisenberg, whose extensive business contacts in China helped open the way to ties between the two countries.
In Beijing, Herzog met with Chinese Communist Party Secretary-General Jiang Zemin, regarded as the most important figure after Li in the aging party leadership.
Jiang, who grew up in Shanghai and served as its mayor before assuming his present post, said he remembered members of the Jewish community there as “intelligent and ambitious” and said he had had many friends among them.
Herzog asked the Shanghai authorities for help in tracing the grave of an uncle who had died there.
In his short visit to Beijing, Herzog also visited the Great Wall and the Forbidden City, the former palace of the emperors. It is preserved today as a major museum.