Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he hopes his visit to China will help boost that country's annual trade with Israel to $10 billion from the current $8 billion. Netanyahu landed in Shanghai Monday morning and is due to return Friday.
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During the flight, Netanyahu said he hoped to entice China to use Israel's planned railway to Eilat and the Eilat port as an alternative to the Suez Canal to reach European markets. He is also striving to promote partnerships with Chinese companies investing in Africa.
The Chinese government plays a large role in that country's economy, so political dialogue is vital, he added. Netanyahu does not plan to promote defense deals during his visit, he told TheMarker.
Netanyahu is also scheduled to meet with senior officials of the new government in Beijing to discuss strategic issues. In Beijing and Shanghai he is due to meet with businesspeople to promote a free trade agreement and R&D cooperation.
Netanyahu's El Al flight to China is costing the public about $1 million – less than the $1.4 million his flight to the United States cost. Netanyahu also visited Canada on that trip.
The prime minister is in China accompanied by his wife, two sons and businesspeople. They flew in a Boeing 767 on a private El Al flight. The company declined to comment, and no response was immediately available from the Prime Minister's Office.
El Al is the only Israeli airline that owns wide-body planes that can fly to China without having to stop to refuel. According to security regulations, the prime minister must fly with an Israeli airline. Budget issues have quashed Israel's plans about buying a plane to serve as its own Air Force One.