Israel attaches great importance to our relations with China. Our two peoples share many qualities, and many common interests.

 FM Shalom welcomes Chinese State Councilor Tang


(Flash 90)

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom greets Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, 29 December 2004


It is a great pleasure to welcome my colleague, Chinese State Councilor Tang, to Israel.


Israel attaches great importance to our relations with China. Our two peoples share many qualities, and many common interests. We are both ancient peoples, who bring to the modern world a deep commitment to our national and cultural heritage. We are also both committed to building a stable and peaceful international system, where economic development and prosperity can flourish.


Despite our immense difference in size, Israel and China have developed close trade relations, which bring real benefits to the peoples of both sides. Our cooperation, particularly in the fields of agriculture and hi-tech, is literally sowing the seeds for a better tomorrow, for both countries. Bilateral trade reached over $1.6 billion last year, and in the first three quarters of this year, grew at a rate of over 30 percent.


I had the great pleasure of visiting China just a few weeks ago, when I saw first-hand the great warmth and the immense potential that exists for cooperation between our two countries. I am grateful for this opportunity to discuss with my colleague how our two governments can work together even more effectively, to enhance this excellent cooperation. And I am pleased to announce, that today we agreed to work together to increase our bilateral trade to $5 billion by 2008.


Our discussions today also focused on key regional and international issues of mutual concern. The two main threats to international security at this time are global terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It is important that all responsible and peace-loving countries work together to combat these dangers, and today we discussed ways in which Israel and China can promote this shared objective. In particular, we look to China to act to ensure that the danger of a nuclear Iran is prevented.


It is crucial that the leaders of the international community act to strengthen the moderates in our region, and to isolate the extremists. In this context, I also urged Deputy Prime Minister Tang to use China’s influence to ensure that the new Palestinian leadership acts to end terror and incitement, so that we may get back to the peace process. I reiterated Israel’s commitment to doing everything in its power to ensure the smooth running of the Palestinian elections, and our interest in working together with the newly elected Palestinian leadership if it does, indeed, fight terror.


At the same time, I also made clear to him that there will be no shortcuts on the way back to the Road Map. Only full implementation of the Palestinian obligations – including the end of incitement and full political and financial reforms — will provide the platform we need to build the peace we seek. Israel is convinced that China can help to promote this crucial goal.


Once again, let me say how pleased I am to have the opportunity to welcome State Councilor Tang to Jerusalem.