The first in SIGNAL’s China-Israel Belt-& Road Delegation series was launched with the China-Israel Belt & Road Seminar Week held from October 30th to November 3rd in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.The purpose of the series is to provide a forum where Israeli expertise could be offered to advance the success of China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). By bringing Chinese BRI scholars, experts and practitioners to Israel to witness Israeli innovation first hand and experience the Start-Up-Nation up close and personal, SIGNAL aims to increase opportunities for cooperation on BRI projects. As a mega-investment program, BRI involves undertaking massive infrastructure investment along the route of the old Silk Road. Due to the complex nature of the program, there are many areas in which Israeli expertise could make a useful contribution towards the successful implementation of the initiative.
Since its founding six years ago, SIGNAL has tirelessly engaged with the upper echelon of research institutions in China to advance policy development that is reciprocally beneficial and sensitive to the context of both countries. In recognition of the centrality and success of its efforts in bolstering ties between China and Israel, the Silk Road Think Tank Association selected SIGNAL as its sole representative in Israel. With the China-Israel Belt & Road Delegation series SIGNAL is acting in this capacity to promote cooperation between China and Israel in the development of the Silk Road trade routes.
The leaders from key Party institutions participating in the delegation were Deputy Director General of the China Center for Contemporary World Studies (CCCWS), Section Chief of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), Deputy Publisher and Deputy Editor-in-Chief of China Investment Magazine, NDRC, Director of Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), Liaison Discipline Inspector of the International Department of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and a senior representative of the International Department at CCDI.
During the SIGNAL BRI Seminar Week, the delegates engaged with a broad range of issues of importance to cooperation on the Belt & Road Initiative. At the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Israel’s unique areas of expertise were introduced in terms of how these are relevant to essential needs of the BRI in the fields of land security and counter-terror, maritime security, anti-corruption, and international law. An exchange was also held at this meeting about cyber security in relation to critical infrastructure, diplomatic ties between Israel and China, as well as the rise of radical Islam and its relevance to the BRI.
The potential for mutual interchange on issues of anti-corruption were discussed at a meeting between two delegates from CCDI and their Israeli counterparts. At a roundtable seminar held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a panoramic perspective on the BRI was explored with experts from departments such as the Center for Policy Research at the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Asia Pacific Department, the Economic Affairs Division, and the Ministry of Transportation. Conversations on similar topics were also broached at a dinner of the Deputy National Security Advisor with the NSA’s Senior Director for Foreign Policy hosted by SIGNAL.
The Chinese delegation became familiar with the technological prowess of Israel attending the Taglit-Birthright Israel State of Mind Innovation Center. A presentation was delivered by the Vice President of Indigo Global, one of Israel’s leading investment advisory firms. Since water issues are a major concern for China, the delegation was particularly engaged by a visit to WaterGen offices, a startup company in Herzliya whose cutting edge technology addresses the critical issue of water security by making water from air.
In order to have an opportunity to engage on a more intimate level with Israel, SIGNAL arranged for the delegation to spend nearly two days touring the country. The activities included exploring a Kibbutz and learning the important contribution of the communist collective to the State of Israel. During their travels in northern Israel, a broad view of the security challenges facing Israel was presented to the delegates and they were given first-hand exposure to the important role that Israel could serve by acting as a land-bridge between China and the Middle East through the transit of goods from the Haifa port to Jordan. Such a perspective was enriched further, when the delegation met with experts in maritime security from the Haifa Research Center for Maritime Strategy.
With the rapid rise of China, the country is making important economic contributions to the Middle East whose potential is transformative. Nevertheless, undertaking such a large-scale initiative, especially in such an unstable region, presents its own unique set of challenges. SIGNAL introduced Chinese thought leaders through the China-Israel Belt & Road Seminar Week to the network of experts and government officials whose ideas and insights can be instrumental in ensuring the BRI has a lasting positive impact in the Middle East and beyond towards a broadly shared prosperity and security.