Israeli, Chinese Presidents Call for Increased Cooperation Despite U.S. Warnings

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech in Beijing, last week.
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech in Beijing, last week.Credit: Ju Peng,AP
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

The presidents of Israel and China called for increased cooperation between the two countries on Wednesday in a historic phone call – the first ever between an Israeli head of state and a Chinese president.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Israeli President Isaac Herzog had a friendly conversation and noted the historic nature of the call, according to Herzog's office. They agreed to advance cooperation in the fields of tourism, economy and culture. 

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The call took place after repeated signals from top U.S. officials that they expect Israel to stand by Washington, its longtime ally, which views Beijing with suspicion. Officials in President Joe Biden's administration have expressed concerns in recent months over Chinese investment in Israeli infrastructure projects and China's attempts to increase its presence in Israel's economy and high-tech sector.

Herzog and Xi invited each other to visit their respective countries to mark the 30th anniversary next year of the establishment of normal diplomatic ties.

Herzog also raised the issue of Iran's Mideast activities, contrasting Tehran with Arab nations that have normalized relations with Israel since 2020.

A senior Israeli source said that despite the warnings, Washington has not completed formulating its China policy and did not place specific demands on Israel regarding its contacts with Beijing.

Biden and Xi held a more than three-hour virtual talk on Monday, which concluded with the leaders of the superpowers agreeing they need to tread carefully as their nations find themselves in an increasingly fraught competition. 

The White House in a statement said that Biden again raised concerns about China’s human rights practices, and made clear that he sought to “protect American workers and industries from the PRC’s unfair trade and economic practices.” The two also spoke about key regional challenges, including North Korea, Afghanistan and Iran.

In September, Herzog met with Jordanian King Abdullah II in his palace in Amman, where the two discussed possible collaboration on energy, the economy, agriculture and the climate crisis.

Earlier, in July, the president spoke on the phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as promoting ties between both countries, according to Turkey's state-owned news agency.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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