Israel–China Ties at 25: The Limited Partnership

Dr S. Samuel C. Rajiv is Associate Fellow at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile
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  • July 2017

    Israel–China bilateral ties have witnessed significant growth since the establishment of full diplomatic relations in January, 1992. Both countries are currently investing their energies in realising the full potential of their on-going partnership in the innovation economy. Growing tourist linkages are another facet of the burgeoning relationship. While China has ‘comprehensive strategic partnerships’ with more than 30 countries, including with those in Israel’s neighbourhood, like Egypt and Iran, the term ‘strategic’ is conspicuously absent in describing the nature of the bilateral ties by either Israel or China. The relationship is instead described as a ‘comprehensive innovation partnership’. This article shows that three limiting factors continue to cast a shadow on the China–Israel partnership. These are: the conundrum of defence trade and security ties; China’s long-standing support of the Palestinian cause in international forums, like the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC)—multilateral bodies whose work is routinely described as a ‘joke’ and a ‘circus’ by Israel’s top leadership; and China’s growing stakes with the wider West Asia region, animated by arms, energy and infrastructure deals.