The President of Israel, Mr. Moshe Katsav and his wife left on Saturday night on a State Visit to China.  The President and his wife were invited on the State Visit, which will last approximately one week, by the President of China, Hu Jintao.  In the President’s delegation are the President of the Israel Academy of Science and Humanities, Professor Jacob Ziv, the Chairman of the Likud faction, M.K. Gideon Saar,  the Chairman of the Labour faction, M.K. Dalia Itzik,  the Managing Director of the Manufacturers Association of Israel, Mr. Yoram Blizovski, and the Chairman of the Israel Export and International Corporation Institute, Mr. Shraga Brosh.

The State Visit to China marks a turning point in the relations between the two countries, after the crisis which followed the cancellation of the Phalcon plane transaction and it is the first of its kind in five years.

The visit will begin in the former British Colony, Hong Kong, which has a large Jewish community, and the President will be the guest of the Chinese Governor, Tung Chee Hwa, and the Minister of Finance, Ma Fredrick.

In Hong Kong the President will meet with the Rabbis of the community and will be a guest in the “Ohel Leah” Synagogue.  The President will meet with members of the business community and the Israel-Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce.  The President will also tour hi-tech plants and the dockyards, at which time the President and his wife will be guests on a “Zim” freighter.

From Hong Kong, the President and his wife will continue to the capital of China, Beijing, where they will be received at a state ceremony by the heads of the Government of China.  On Thursday, 18th December, the President of Israel will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Beijing University, following which, the President will deliver an address at the University’s Congress Center.

During the visit, the President will meet with the President, Hu Jintao, with the Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao and with the Chairman of the 10th National People’s Congress (NPC), Wu Bangguo.  There will also be economic agreement signing ceremonies of private companies, with the participation of the President, if the negotiations being conducted by the Israeli companies with their Chinese counterparts are completed by then.

During his visit, the President will inaugurate the new building of the Israeli Embassy, “Beit Yisrael,” which includes living quarters, in the capital of China, and will participate in a Chanukah candle lighting ceremony which will be attended by some of the Israeli community in China, Jewish diplomats of the Diplomatic Corps serving in China.  The President he will also meet with representatives of the Chinese media for a series of interviews and press conferences.