The recent appointment of Wang Qishan as China’s head of the China-Israel Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation sends a clear indication: Israel is very important to China.
Book review by Carice Witte
In this paper, SIGNAL Founder/Executive Director Carice Witte reviews “Chinese Foreign Policy Under Xi,” an amalgam of thirteen essays about current Chinese foreign policy. As China continues to rapidly grow and reexamine its international priorities, its global strategy is constantly evolving. For this reason alone, its is difficult to come by time appropriate, extensive analyses of China’s foreign policy. This represents a catch-22, as analysts must constantly update their knowledge to provide an accurate assessment of China. With this in mind, Ms. Witte discusses each section in the context of China’s present affairs. Published in 2017, some of the arguments presented in“Chinese Foreign Policy Under Xi,”are already outdated; nonetheless, it provides useful commentary on a consequential topic.
Israel’s relationship with China is usually viewed from a bilateral perspective that focuses on economic issues. Sometimes, America’s view of the relationship is added to the picture.
The relationship between Israel and China exists, however, in a global context, and the character of that context needs to be clearly understood if Israel wants to preserve the widest possible range of options and avoid undesirable choices in its relations with both Washington and Beijing.
The problem with understanding this greater context is that while everyone knows that we’re living in a post-Cold War era, not much else is clear about the present international order. Francis Fukayama argued in his influential 1992 book, The End of History, that a consensus regarding the legitimacy of liberal democracy was emerging around the globe thanks to liberal democracy’s capacity to satisfy fundamental human desires for both comfort and recognition. Fukayama, in other words, thought that the post-Cold War order would be liberal-democratic.
Fukayama’s teacher, the late Samuel Huntington, argued against his student in his 1996 book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, that the post-Cold War era would see conflict break out along civilizational lines.
International politics are in flux. Power relations between the main actors on the international scene are changing. Grasping and exploiting these changes in a timely fashion is an essential prerequisite of successful statesmanship. This paper addresses India’s movement into the Middle East, as seen in the broader framework of India’s changing position among the world’s great powers. The most salient international changes include the new tensions between the United States and both Russia and China, the growing assertiveness of China, the relative decline of Europe and the turmoil in the Middle East and wider Muslim world. Less noticed but perhaps no less important is a perceptible change in India’s view of its own future since Prime Minister Modi, the head of the center-right Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014. His was called a “landmark victory”.
In recent years, Israel has invested heavily in developing the economic, diplomatic and academic dimensions of its relationship with China. The investment has paid off, as Israel-China relations are strengthening while China rises on the world stage.
Moving forward, it is in Jerusalem’s interest to deepen the connection with Beijing. However, it’s legitimate to wonder if the cultural gaps and different histories render such an interest impractical. At first glance, the cultural and historical barriers present serious obstacles to establishing a more profound connection between Israel and China.
This initial view is, however, incorrect. There are profound cultural and historical parallels between the Chinese and Israeli experiences that, if thoughtfully cultivated over time, can be used to deepen the connection between the Israeli and Chinese peoples and to buttress the Israel-China relationship.
Consider the following: only the Chinese and Israelis can claim to be inheritors of traditions that date back to the ancient world but have endured through the present. There are other ancient peoples in the world, for instance, the Persians. But in the case of Persia, the introduction of Islam caused a fundamental disruption within Persian history. Persian culture before Islam, and Persian culture after Islam, are different in kind.