- Posted by Newsdesk
- On 4th May 2016
- Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Belt and Road, china, Hainan Airlines, Israel
April 2016 proved to be a fruitful month in Sino-Israeli relations, as the first direct flight route was opened between the two countries following Israeli Parliamentary Speaker Yuli Edelstein’s high-profile visit to Beijing on April 12, 2016.
In China, Edelstein met with Zhang Dejiang, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) as the two nations set out a plan to foster deeper bilateral legal and political ties in order to facilitate P2P exchanges, mutual investment and B2B cooperation.
Noting that China was also focusing on developing innovative development, Zhang expressed his admiration for Israel’s cutting edge scientific and technological sectors, whilst indicating that the two countries would seek further cooperation in the promotion of innovation and improved governance. This will further build upon well-established bilateral trade, agriculture and scientific agreements, in addition to the scope for ever-closer ties within the context of both the Belt and Road Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
This affirmation of increased economic and political cooperation was further boosted by the launching of the first direct flights between China and Israel on April 28, 2016. The new route, operated by Hainan Airlines, will see China’s largest private airline deliver three Airbus A330 services per week between Beijing and Tel Aviv.
The arrival of the first flight at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport was marked by a state ceremony upon its landing, as the Transportation Minister Yariv Levin and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz headed a group of prominent Israeli figures that had assembled to welcome a Chinese delegation on their arrival in Israel. Yisrael Katz informed the media that the opening of the new route marked “a new era in relations between Israel and China, and an important development in our relationship” (Hamodia).
In combination with the announcement 10-year multiple-entry Israeli tourist visas for Chinese nationals in March, the connection is expected to swell the number of Chinese tourists arriving in Israel, which totalled around 40,000 in 2015 following strong growth over recent years. Increased tourist numbers will also continue to strengthen the bilateral political relationship between the two governments, which is being further solidified by the opening of discussions regarding a bilateral Free Trade Agreement in recent months.
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