A reception marking the 15th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Israel was held on Wednesday evening in Herzliya, an Israeli coastal city.
"I think now China has made such an impressive progress in the economic domain," Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres told Xinhua, adding that he also appreciated China's effort to try to combine such advancement with its traditional values.
Speaking at the reception, Peres said that he was greatly surprised by the accomplishment made by the 1.3 billion Chinese people "from the depth of poverty to become the second largest economy in our time" with an unbelievable growth rate of 8 to 9 percent per year.
Peres also praised China's preparation for the 2008 Olympic Games, which will be hosted in Beijing, and expressed his confidence in its success.
Addressing over two hundred Israeli officials, representatives and friends at the reception, Mr. Chen Yonglong, Chinese Ambassador to Israel, recalled the rapid development of Israel-China bilateral relations during the past 15 years and the increasing cooperation between two countries in various fields such as trade, agriculture, culture, science and technology and education etc.
"Fifteen years ago, our trade volume was relatively small. Now China has become Israel's third largest trade partner, ranking behind the United States and Germany only", Chen said.
From Jan. 9 to 11, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert paid an official visit to China, where he met with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. The two sides discussed ways to further deepen ties with each other and exchanged views on solutions to Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Diplomatic relations between Israel and China were formally established on 24 January 1992. From then on, relations rapidly developed in many areas. Currently, cooperation between the two countries is flourishing on many different levels such as science, agriculture, culture and of course economics and commerce.
According to Israeli official statistics, the level of Israel- China mutual trade grew rapidly, from US$54 million in 1992 to US$3.39 billion in 2006. At the beginning of the relationship, trade was primarily focused on the fields of agriculture, chemicals and water. Today Israel-China commerce also encompasses the fields of life sciences, hi-tech and venture capital.
(Xinhua News Agency January 25, 2007)