On the eve of the 15th anniversary of the establishment of China-Israel diplomatic ties, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Friday that the development of bilateral relations is exciting and promising.
Olmert is expected to visit China this month, which marks the 15th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Israel, from Jan. 9 to 11.
In an interview with Xinhua in Jerusalem, Olmert said that he wanted to further promote cooperation in industry and business, and to increase the volume of trade between the two countries.
"The volume of trade in the last year is US$3 billion. One and a half years ago, the two sides jointly declared that the target in 2008 is a trade volume of 5 billion dollars. I am looking forward to it. I am sure it will happen," he said.
He said both countries would benefit from developing their trade.
"We sell to China many different items, and we buy from China a lot. The expansion is in many different areas... I have some complaints from Israelis. They said the Chinese are competitive. So I said the Chinese are good, they are competitive, we have to give them a chance, and we have to get a chance from them," Olmert said.
He stressed that China is not only a big economic power, but an important country which plays a significant role in some regional and global issues. He welcomed China's increasing participation in the Middle East and expected it to strengthen the regional stability and peace.
"Anything China can contribute to facilitate the political dialogue is something Israel will always welcome," Olmert said.
On his forthcoming visit to China, the Israeli prime minister said he would exchange views with the Chinese leaders on the regional and international issues of common concern.
Israel is going to open a new representative office in the Guangdong Province of China.
As a son of former Jewish residents in China, Olmert said he had a spiritual tie with the Asian country and its northern city of Harbin. He showed a framed photo of his parents, which was taken in Harbin before they left for the Middle East.
"This is a picture of my parents in Harbin in the 1930s... So I have Chinese background. China is the country which hosted my parents. They studied in China. They spoke Chinese. They grew up in China and the Chinese culture is part of my heritage and part of my earliest memory as a young kid in the state of Israel," Olmert said.
"So China is not another country for me. China is very much a part of my family heritage and memory of my family. And we have great love for the Chinese people. And we feel a lot of gratefulness for the Chinese people for the very warm and friendly manner in which they treated Jewish people both in Shanghai and in Harbin," he added.
Olmert said he will definitely one day visit Harbin, where he believed he would receive a warm reception.
(Xinhua News Agency January 6, 2007)