At a recent meeting in Beijing, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie agreed to increase bilateral defense cooperation. In an email interview, Yitzhak Shichor, a professor in the Department of Asian Studies at the University of Haifa, discussed China-Israel relations.
WPR: What is the recent history of Israel-China relations?
Yitzhak Shichor: Sino-Israeli relations in the first decade of the 21st century reflect what I call "mutual disillusionment." Earlier Chinese expectations that Israel would become a major source of advanced military and security technologies for China have failed. Similarly, Israeli expectations that China would become a dominant market for exports -- including military -- and would side with Israel on outstanding Middle Eastern issues -- primarily on Iran's nuclear program -- have failed as well. It seems that the two countries now demonstrate a more realistic and sober understanding of each other's capabilities and limitations. Relations in recent years between Israel and China have been correct, including a gradual expansion of trade, investments and economic relations; the regular exchange of official and unofficial visits and delegations; and an ongoing diplomatic dialogue that apparently leads nowhere.