Israel announced the construction of a $12 million embassy, its largest in the world, in Beijing on this date in 1997 — five years after China finally granted formal diplomatic recognition to Israel. The two nations had built secret military ties throughout the 1980s, with China seeking weapons and technology it was unable to acquire from either the U.S. or the USSR. Today, Israel is China’s second-largest supplier of weapons (following Russia), and China is Israel’s largest Asian trading partner. China has benefited from Israel’s expertise in solar energy, robotics, irrigation, and water desalination, among other technologies; China plays a key role in the kosher food industry, with 500 Chinese factories provisioning the $10 billion industry in Israel and the U.S. Chinese banks are also beginning to provide capital for construction projects in Israel, including, controversially, in the occupied Golan Heights.
“China is one of the few places in the world where Jews were never persecuted and several Jewish communities existed in China since at least the 12th century. On all levels, Israel is seeking greater interaction with China.” —Jerusalem Post