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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. ─Reuters
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. ─Reuters

China welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday just days after hosting Saudi Arabia's King Salman and the signing of deals worth as much as $65 billion with Riyadh, as China steps up its tentative engagement with the Middle East.

China has traditionally played little role in Middle East conflicts or diplomacy, despite its reliance on the region for oil.

But it has been trying to get more involved, for example in efforts to end Syria's civil war, trying to portray itself as an honest broker without the historical baggage the Americans and Europeans have in the region, Beijing-based diplomats say.

Meeting in Beijing's cavernous Great Hall of the People, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang praised Israel's advances, saying it was a world leader in some technologies.

"The Chinese people and the Jewish people are both great peoples of the world," Li said.

Netanyahu said there was much to talk about in tech cooperation.

"And at the same time there is a great deal of convulsion in the world, including in our part of the world," Netanyahu said, in comments made in front of reporters.

"And I would like to have the opportunity to exchange views with you and to see how we can cooperate together for the advancement of security, peace, stability, and prosperity."

Deng Li, director general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's West Asian and North African Affairs Department, told a briefing that both countries had agreed to step up free trade talks.

"Personally I am very confident and optimistic about the future of this free trade agreement," Deng said.

He added that Li had said China does not have its own interests on the Palestinian issue and would like to see the issue properly solved at an early date in line with United Nations resolutions and the international consensus.

Chinese envoys occasionally visit Israel and the Palestinian Territories, but Chinese efforts to mediate or play a role in that long-standing dispute have never amounted to much.

China also has traditionally had a good relationship with the Palestinians.

The Middle East, however, is fraught with risk for China, a country that has little experience navigating the religious and political tensions that frequently rack the region.

China also has close ties with Iran, whose nuclear program has seriously alarmed Israel.

Behind closed doors, China and Israel have close security ties too, rarely discussed in public.

"You shouldn't ask me this question," Deng said, when asked whether Li and Netanyahu discussed intelligence sharing.


Comments (47) Closed



Qadir ali Mar 20, 2017 06:27pm

Israel and Pakistan must also break the ice and become friendly conutries and make this world the better place to live in.

syedchaudhrygangadinkhan Mar 20, 2017 06:27pm

It is all about nuclear weapons whether it is Iran or Pakistan. What is said in front of the cameras is far different than the actual purpose of the meeting. I don't think Netanyahu went there to be told how great the Jews are.

Saifuddin Takhtawala Mar 20, 2017 06:30pm

@Qadir ali Totally agree.

javid wani Mar 20, 2017 06:44pm

now china is trying to act more as a balance rather than bandwagon in world affairs. we r slowly moving to bi polar ism from a unipolar world. chinese growing interest in middle east, central asia and sub continent will b very good to maintain balance of power.

asad Mar 20, 2017 06:44pm

@Qadir ali Should they forget kids being shot in head by the Israel occupiers.

A Mar 20, 2017 06:44pm

Very difficult to understand China's diplomacy ! There is never a simple business deal ....!

Harmony-1© Mar 20, 2017 06:55pm

All these years US has totally failed in Middle East conflicts or diplomacy. Perhaps China can play that role better from now on.

Harmony-1© Mar 20, 2017 07:00pm

@Asad - "kids being shot in head by the Israel occupiers" is not going to get any better if Pakistan doesn't engage with Israel. Only diplomacy and dialogue works; not confrontation!

Ravi vancouver Mar 20, 2017 07:12pm

@asad Successful societies and nations don't let only emotions decide their actions. Developments and economic agendas are their priorities. China is following this path and so they'll have friends irrespective of the religious baggage of the other party.

Anwar Sadiqque Mar 20, 2017 07:14pm

@asad : Can you site examples of this? I realize the US media can be biased but I haven't see this. The other question is what parent would allow or even encourage their child to throw rocks at soldiers with guns? Would you? The solution to the Palestinian problem is through peaceful protest which is more powerful than anything.

SID Mar 20, 2017 07:16pm

@Harmony-1© Few things don't change even with diplomacy. Palestine for Israels , South China sea for China, Crimea for Russia & Kashmir for India. Money talks over diplomacy. Every one knows how Israel is close to US, still they are building relationship with China. India is close to US more than ever , still China is ready to hold dialogue since they can't afford to loose $100 billion annual business. Present world , money power is the real diplomat .

Harmony-1© Mar 20, 2017 07:29pm

@SID - "Present world , money power is the real diplomat ."

Even that (business) is done through "diplomacy" and "dialogue". Isn't that's why they are for? :)

Pavan Mar 20, 2017 07:32pm

@SID ..yes i totally agree with your statement. .instead of money we should say its modern way of living. .survival of the fittest. .

saudagar Mar 20, 2017 07:34pm

@Harmony-1© so we agree great nations think alike dont we? in diplomacy,dialogue .

Seriously? Mar 20, 2017 07:35pm

@Harmony-1© Serious questions for you: How many countries who fought against each other in WW I and WW II are now allies? Why are they allies now and what have they gained from it. If they came over past differences then why are we still fighting old prejudice?

Harmony-1© Mar 20, 2017 07:36pm

@Saudagar - All nations are great - do not belittle anyone!

Harmony-1© Mar 20, 2017 07:41pm

@Seriously? - Good question :)

saudagar Mar 20, 2017 07:46pm

@Seriously? what a observation ,superb sir ,but what are answers to questions ?you left it halfway !

Kabir Mar 20, 2017 07:54pm

Israeli PM is following the footstep of Saudi King isn't co-incident they both are afraid of Iran and they know very well the importance of China in this regard

SID Mar 20, 2017 07:59pm

@Harmony-1© Diplomacy is a mask . Donald Trump has audacity to say no handshake to Angela Merkel because US is the largest economy . Everyone want to maintain business relationship with US . Even if diplomacy failed there, Germany -US will remain dependent on other because of trade.

akram Mar 20, 2017 08:12pm

@Anwar Sadiqque http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/05/israel-killed-25-palestinian-children-months-160514140833141.html

I don't know what planet you have been living on for the last 50 years...this is not a new story, it has been happening since my childhood!

RICH Mar 20, 2017 08:40pm

I think china and israel are becoming all weather friends

palestine is slowly losing out, west is with israel, now china, only russia left too be seen if they will support paletine, bec they are the last permanant security member

hem pant Mar 20, 2017 08:45pm

As have been saying in international relations there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies. The only aim is self interest. Chinas only aim is self interest

Kabir Mar 20, 2017 08:48pm

@RICH Two states theory is actually in favour of Israel if all the Palestinians become the citizen of Israel the Jews will very soon loose their majority and they will soon become a minority in Israel as most of the sane Israelis thinks

Shahryar shirazi Mar 20, 2017 09:18pm

@Qadir ali i absolutely agree. Egyptians, Jordanians, Palestinians bave diplomatic relations. We have no conflict with Israel. We should advance and build ties with the Jewish state.

imran ali Mar 20, 2017 09:18pm

@Ravi vancouver - Indian has a point, which Pakistan lacks in their foreign policy. India is closer to GCC than Pakistan now and is able to formulate policies that favour Indian workers. Importantly is closer to Israel too and India is the biggest crude oil buyer of Iran. Pakistan needs to be friends with everyone and think about expanding exports to different markets.

Awaz... Mar 20, 2017 10:20pm

@Qadir ali ...Well Said!!!

Agha Raza Mar 20, 2017 10:47pm

Sensible nation and government establish their relations with other countries base on their own interest and countries like Pakistan made relation on emotional bases. our real ruler thought that they are on right path although they were wrong,

Ali Mar 21, 2017 12:45am

@Harmony-1© what did arafat do for over 30yrs!?! it pointless

Ali Mar 21, 2017 12:43am

@SID "US is the largest economy" for arms yes anything else NO!

OZ Mar 21, 2017 01:28am

I hope chines will pursue Pakistani's to establish diplomatic relation with Israel. It would be better for Pakistan and the region.

Member Mar 21, 2017 03:11am

If you want to. Be world power you have make peace with them and chinese know that simple is that

Sana Mar 21, 2017 03:51am

@Kabir What makes you think Israel would give Palestinians citizen rights?

Jim beam Mar 21, 2017 04:02am

I am surprised by the polite comments. Is it because it is China?

shafqatmir Mar 21, 2017 05:13am

@akram bravo, you know the truth sir, like me, i have lived in usa for 43 years

vorshal Mar 21, 2017 05:25am

@saudagar -- I believe he was checking somebody's wisdom!

Counterpoint Mar 21, 2017 06:08am

@Seriously? Quote ""Serious questions for you: How many countries who fought against each other in WW I and WW II are now allies? Why are they allies now and what have they gained from it. If they came over past differences then why are we still fighting old prejudice?""

Excellent Questions with no answer. Probably Greed for power, wealth & prosperity.

saquib khan Mar 21, 2017 06:42am

@SID agree

Syed zafar kazmi u.s.a Mar 21, 2017 08:58am

@Pavan @SID ."instead of money we should say its modern way of living. .survival of the fittest. .". Unfortunately what you say is incontrovertible as the experience unravels itself but humanity has never ceased to defy and discredit the fundamental jungle rule of survival of the fittest. It is through this undying drive and urge for fairness, equality, justice and freedom that we have framed laws shaping into The Hague Protocol, Geneva Combention and the Charter of United Nations. Somehow, we sabotage more our own conscience, driven by a morbid force of self interest than we tend to abide by the very law we have created and that is terribly tragic. But no matter how difficult may be the path to lawfulness, justice and FairPlay, let's continue to with the desire to tread it rather than altogether abandon it and thus give up even a glimmer of hope of some overall collective bright future for humankind. A dream is always better than nightmare

asim Mar 21, 2017 09:00am

@Qadir ali yeah right.

ASIM iQBAL Mar 21, 2017 09:11am

@Harmony-1© money is not everything dear

India forward Mar 21, 2017 09:13am

@RICH Yes this is not just with Palestine, Its indeed true in Kashmir case also. No countries coming to mediate,but suggests solve yourself. Business n trade economics are stronger than emotions

India forward Mar 21, 2017 09:24am

@Agha Raza I agree with you.

Akil Akhtar Mar 21, 2017 09:26am

Israel is a black spot on the face of so called civilised world.....

India forward Mar 21, 2017 09:26am

@A CHINA MEANS BUSINESS nothing else. That's why they are ,a super power in the making

Ch. K. A. Nye Mar 21, 2017 01:18pm

@Harmony-1© ... whilst I agree with your statement Sir,

Ch. K. A. Nye Mar 21, 2017 01:25pm

@Jim beam ... yep...that panacea and solution to all our problems...