SIGNAL Note 13

The rise of the BRI creates the framework for broad cooperation between China and 65 partner countries facilitating policy coordination and economic prosperity. In addressing the growing concerns of this expansion, this SIGNAL Note will discuss the impact of desertification in the BRI’s implementation and how innovative Israeli technology and thinking can help mitigate these adverse effects. In particular this note will address how the Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev’s pragmatic solutions to desertification which could surly be applicable to Chinese markets. Additionally, this SIGNAL note will describe how a new formulaic approach to water management and the implementation of technology can lead to closer peer-to-peer bonds while decreasing the negative impact of environmental degradation.

95% of Israel’s land is dry sub-humid, semi-arid, arid or hyper-arid thus Israel is almost entirely comprised of drylands accompanied by the threats of soil degradation and desertification. With this reality perpetually constant Israeli experience and successes in preventing land degradation and desertification provide a clear strategy to alleviate the growing risk caused by drought and widespread desertification.

SIGNAL Note 12

The BRI framework emphasizes the importance of strengthening peer-to-peer bonds and broad policy coordination to facilitate unimpeded trade and a stable investment atmosphere. These concepts are reflected in the developing partnerships between Israel and African States. Cooperation between Africa and Israel not only advance the core aims of BRI but also can lead to direct benefits for China as Israeli technological expertise and security experience penetrate the sub-continent. Greater stability via Israel’s support in these areas of great importance will positively impact the Chinese economy that is now investing significantly in Africa.

From 1957-1973 Israel and African nations forged deep diplomatic and economic relations. However relations temporarily halted due to Arab pressure and oil diplomacy in ’73. Since then, Israel’s private sector has worked in Africa developing a range of businesses, bringing water and agricultural technology. Recently, the years of growing business interests have blossomed into diplomatic and political bridges being formed to amend the decades of distance between the Jewish state and African nations. The latest developments are due in part to rising security concerns but also to changes in political alliances throughout the Middle East.

SIGNAL Note 11


The summer of 2016 saw important signs of significant changes in relations between Israel and the Sunni Arab world. These events are not the catalyst for but the result of an evolving Middle East. China’s 13th 5 year plan emphasizes the importance of building cooperation across all sectors to foster personal bonds which, if implemented effectively can enable regional stability and produce a less risky environment for investment and the core aims of the BRI. As such, China would surely take great interest in the improving relations between Israel and the Sunni Arab countries.

To illustrate the nature of these developments, this SIGNAL note will focus on recent shifts in the relationship between Israel & Saudi Arabia, the implications of closer Saudi Arabia-Israel ties, and its potential effect on the BRI & Sino-Israel relations. Two important events provide insight into how the shift in relations is occurring, and its impact on China.

Gen Anwar Eshki, center, at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs on July 22, 2016

SIGNAL Note 10

Food security and sustainable ecology stand as a significant tenet in the viability of a society in the twenty-first century. As the 13th 5-year plan has indicated, China is invested in facilitating food security and sustainable ecology to promote its ascension to a ‘moderately prosperous society” by 2021. This SIGNAL note will focus on the June 20-21 ‘Sustainable Food System’s Conference’ hosted by the Manna Center for Food Safety & Security. This Note intends to reflect on some of the practical lessons and processes necessary in ‘sustainable; agriculture, environment and nutrition, and express their possible applicability to Chinese markets. We aim to present that innovative Israeli know-how can promote increased food security and safety in a variety of settings. To best convey this idea we will focus on two of the most impactful panels at the conference- “The future of farming in Israel” & “Food policy and the sustainable development goals” to illustrate how creative and unique approaches can enable a better and more cohesive food security strategy in China and beyond.

SIGNAL Note #9

SIGNAL Fellow, and guest writer for the SIGNAL Note, Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak explains the reasons for the ongoing talks between Turkey and Israel to restore full diplomatic relations. As two key nations on the developing Belt & Road initiative, the impending reestablishment of full diplomatic relations bodes well for cooperation with China on developing both the land belt and the maritime road. The following essay was written by Mr. Yanaorocak who accompanied SIGNAL Founder/Executive Director, Carice Witte to Beijing, Shihezi and Kunming as part of SIGNAL’s delegation in September 2015. Mr. Yanarocak is a Junior Researcher at the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel aviv university. This essay was first published in its Tel Aviv Notes.

Israel and Turkey are close to reestablishing full diplomatic relations, which were severed during the Mavi Marmara flotilla crisis in 2010. This reconciliation is part of Turkey’s foreign policy recalibration under the Justice and Development Party’s (AdaletveKalkınmaPartisi – AKP) new Prime Minister BinaliYıldırım.

SIGNAL Note #8

As the aims of China’s 13th 5-year plan have indicated, environmentally conscious solutions which promote green development, increasing agricultural yield and efficiency are a significant priority. The shifts towards ‘green tech’ developments correspond with China’s desire to improve environmental standards while effectively developing its vast agricultural sector at a critical juncture in its trajectory into a ‘moderately prosperous society’. In this SIGNAL note we will address some of the most significant, cutting edge green and agricultural advancements developed in Israel which could provide new and innovative solutions to China’s food security.

To express how these important advancements could shape the future of Chinese agricultural production, this note will detail how Israeli breakthroughs in grain storage and biological pest control have led to increased yields, while decreasing reliance on dangerous chemicals. In short, we intend to illustrate how critical developments by Israeli innovators could promote increased food security while forming essential peer-to-peer bonds between Israeli and Chinese policy makers, an essential element of the Belt & Road initiative.

SIGNAL Note #7

As China’s Belt & Road initiative evolves, it is understood that regional stability in the Middle East can enhance its geo-economic success. As part of the joint efforts of SIGNAL and Northwest University (NWU) in Xi’an to examine and research the Belt & Road, a conference was hosted by NWU from May 8th-9th. The topic , “The Situation in the Middle East and the Build-up of Belt and Road Initiative” sought to gain a better understanding of hoe developments in Syria may impact the Belt & Road, China and Israel. SIGNAL was honoured to bring a delegation of experts to deliver presentations at the conference. This was preceded by meetings in Beijing between the SIGNAL scholars and senior researchers in the field. Presenting on behalf of SIGNAL and Israel were Jonathan Spyer, Director of Rubin Center at IDC Herzliya and Fellow at Middle East Forum, Prof. Eyal Zisser, Vice Rector of Tel Aviv University and the holder of The Yona and Dina Ettinger Chair in Contemporary History of the Middle East and Prof. Meir Litvak Associate Professor at Department for Middle Eastern History, Tel Aviv University and Director of Alliance Center for Modern Iranian Studies.

SIGNAL Note #6

The scale and geographic range of the Belt & Road initiative clearly means that numerous factors will affect its intended aims of cross border trade and economic growth for the many countries along its path. Chief among these factors is the complex security reality which will influence investment and risk assessment related to the Belt & Road. Israel’s knowledge of global risk factors and diverse security experience seem to align well with the immense challenges in managing complex security situations involved in a diverse multinational, economic policy on the scale and scope of the Belt & Road.

In this SIGNAL Note we will evaluate how Israel’s cutting edge technological and human resources can be utilized in building a more economically viable implementation of the core goals of the Belt & Road. We will specifically address how Israel’s expertise can produce a less risky investment environment while laying the foundation for strong long term ties between the Chinese and Israeli security establishments.

SIGNAL Note #5

Within China-Israel relations, a particularly important area of collaboration has been the application of scientific research to industrial development. The technology-sharing among the nations in a range of fields promises to make great advances both in terms of economic impact and promoting further innovation. We will examine here how the cooperation among Chinese and Israeli businesses is initiated in practice. In particular, we will discuss the two institutions which are the main drivers behind the promotion of cooperation the National Industry Agency for R&D Cooperation in Israel otherwise known as MATIMOP and the China Science Technology and Exchange Center (CSTEC), as well as the roadshows and exhibitions which are the main avenue by which such partnerships are initiated.

In January 2015, China and Israel signed a “Three-Year Action Plan for Innovation Cooperation (2015-2017)”. To realize the Action Plan, a committee was established, co-chaired by Vice Premier Liu Yandong and Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman. One of the provisions in the action plan was the promotion of technological exchange through matchmaking events, such as roadshows, which can provide a channel for businesses to find collaboration partners.

The purpose of MATIMOP is to advance cooperation on industrial projects between Israel and international partners. The institution is effectively the executive agency of the Office of the Chief Scientist, ensuring that the latest and most cutting-edge scientific is channeled towards significant industrial developments. Through engaging with international partners, Israel seeks to mutually beneficial collaboration entailing joint investment and technology-sharing to maximize the potential of such projects.

SIGNAL Note #4

As we saw from the prior SIGNAL Note, it is well known that Israel’s water expertise can be of significant value to China and it is becoming understood that this water expertise can also contribute to bilateral and multilateral cooperation under the auspices of the Belt & Road initiative. It is also a known fact that China’s business ties with Israel grew significantly in 2015 and are continuing to strengthen. What may be less commonly known is the other, many areas where Israel and China have begun cooperating that can be of medium to long term value to the Belt & Road projects and programs.

Events in Israel that began in Jerusalem on March 29, 2016 give some insight into the breadth of cooperation opportunities now being pursued by the two countries. One main event was of academic orientation. SIGNAL was privileged to attend the signing celebration hosted by Israel’s Council on Higher Education and witness the slew of signing ceremonies. These agreements, signed between Israeli and Chinese academic institutions provide some insight into the fields of cooperation that are forming between the Middle Kingdom and the Jewish State. And many of them will serve as a valuable contribution to the success of the Belt & Road initiative.

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The SIGNAL Note is a Chinese-English publication by SIGNAL's researchers on Israel and the Belt & Road Initiative.