One evening last week, the Chinese government threw a dinner party for a visiting international delegation. If the menu that night in Beijing was strictly kosher, it was because the guests of honor for the event came from Israel. And the day had featured a remarkable event.
Just hours earlier, China's Minister of Transportation Li Shenglin and his Israeli counterpart, Yisrael Katz, had signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on a multibillion dollar project inside Israel that some say could constitute an alternative trade route to the Suez Canal.
While it is doubtful the Suez Canal's importance will be seriously challenged, the deal highlights the dizzying pace at which China and Israel are building economic and diplomatic links. The Israelis are not turning their backs on their most important alliance, the one with the U.S. But they have made a major strategic decision to develop their relationship with China. The Chinese have found the idea of linking up with the high-tech savvy, strategically located Israel a most attractive one, and the two countries are already finding plenty of reasons to celebrate their evolving relationship.