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Chinese Foreign Minister Arrives in Israel, Signaling Closer Ties

September 16, 1992
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Signaling the widening of ties between Israel and China, the foreign minister of the People’s Republic of China arrived here Tuesday evening for a three-day official visit.

Qian Qichen, the highest-ranking Chinese official ever to visit Israel, traveled here with eight senior government officials. His visit was being covered by three Beijing journalists who arrived Sunday on a direct El Al flight from the Chinese capital.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres were expected to voice concern to the senior Chinese official over Beijing’s arms sales to Arab countries, according to an Israeli press report.

The Israeli leaders are especially anxious over Beijing’s recent agreement to provide Iran with nuclear technology and know-how, the report said.

News reports also cited plans to discuss with the visiting Chinese officials the transfer to the Israeli government of Jewish property in China, primarily real estate in such large cities as Shanghai.

Jews fled to China, mainly Shanghai, during the Nazi era.

Groundwork for the transfer was laid by an Israeli Justice Ministry official, who flew to Beijing with journalists and airline officials Sept. 3 on El Al’s inaugural flight to China.

The official, Amram Blum, remained in China after the rest of the Israeli delegation returned home Sunday.

One of the houses is reportedly being considered as the site of El Al’s offices in China.

The possibility of realizing the ownership of Jewish assets in China was raised by the former director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Reuven Merhav.

An invitation to visit Israel was extended to Qian by then Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy at the beginning of the year with the opening of diplomatic relations between the two countries. It was renewed by Shimon Peres when he became foreign minister two months ago.

In a parallel show of openness, the Chinese Embassy in Washington on Monday hosted leaders of American Jewish groups at a kosher luncheon.

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