JERUSALEM (Dec. 24)
A high-ranking Chinese government official came here this week on what was to be a secret mission to Israel that could be the precursor to normal diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Deputy Foreign Minister Yung Fu Cheng arrived here Monday from Beijing. His unannounced visit was soon leaked to the news media, as was the fact that he met Tuesday with Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Foreign Minister David Levy.
Yung reportedly raised the issues of bilateral relations and the Middle East peace process, which are apparently linked.
A multilateral peace conference on Middle East regional issues is scheduled to open in Moscow on Jan. 28, to which Israel, the Arab states and the major powers of Europe have been invited, along with the United States, Canada and Japan.
China is aware Israel will not agree to its participation without full diplomatic relations. That led to speculation here that the establishment of such relations may be imminent.
Israel and China presently maintain diplomatic contact through a Chinese tourist office in Israel and an Israeli scientific mission in Beijing.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens apparently made a secret visit to China last month, escorted by the heads of Israel’s military and aviation industries. The secret was not long preserved, captured in photograph.
Yung’s trip here was in lieu of a visit to China by Yosef Hadas, director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Hadas had to cancel because of his involvement in the Israeli-Arab bilateral peace talks in Washington.