[VIDEOS IN EXTENDED ARTICLE]
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, on Monday morning 22 Adar, China Standard Time, met with the heads of China’s largest corporations, each of which has a turnover of tens of billions of dollars. Among those present were the chairpersons of Wanda, Alibaba, Wahaha, Lenovo and Baidu.
The Prime Minister expressed Israel’s willingness to continue opening to the Chinese market and to increase bilateral trade. He presented the attractiveness of investing in Israel as well as its unique human capital.
Accompanying Prime Minister Netanyahu are Economy Minister Eli Cohen, Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin and Health Minister Yaakov Litzman. The Prime Minister called on them to cooperate with Israeli companies in Israel, in China and in other countries around the world.
Afterwards, Prime Minister Netanyahu attended a business / economic forum with over 600 Israeli and Chinese businesspeople. He called on the Chinese businesspeople to adopt Israeli technology in order to continue to raise the standard of living in China.
The Israeli delegation to the forum – organized under the aegis of the Export Institute – is composed of dozens of businesspeople from a variety of industries and companies (including IDE, Bank Leumi, Bank Hapoalim, Tnuva, NaanDanJain and others) that either operate in China or are interested in penetrating the Chinese market. Delegation members are due to meet with hundreds of Chinese businesspeople.
The forum was organized by Economy and Industry Ministry commercial attaches at Israel’s missions in China
Prime Minister Netanyahu stated, “I just met with 11 heads of the largest corporations in China. A major portion of them are investing in Israel and a major portion of them will invest in Israel. This means jobs, the development of businesses and a link to the major Chinese markets. This is good for the citizens of Israel and for the Israeli economy. I told them that in today’s world there are several concentrations of technology, not many, the US, Israel, and Israel is open for business with China.”
He also state, “This is a stark change from the first visit I had in China over 20 years ago, when I came during my first visit as prime minister. The streets were lined with bicycles, a lot of bicycles, few cars, some new buildings, but mostly old buildings. And I have to say less smog. And you see the force, the great, enormous swirl of Chinese progress and Chinese ascendency, with all its challenges and all its problems, assume its place on the world stage in a very exciting development in human affairs and something that all nations – all nations – seek to take part of, to be partners with China, to be of assistance to China and thereby also assist themselves.
In this period, in these decades, Israel too has not stood still. Israel has moved and become one of the foremost centers of global innovation, a technological global power. It is true that we also amended our economy. We changed it. We changed it into a much freer economy, a more liberal economy more aligned with free trade principles, free market principles. And the combination of the innate technology that we had and the market economy that we built created a very powerful explosion of startup companies in various fields, drawing on military capabilities, especially in the field of IT, but rapidly expanding into other areas. As a result, and for other reasons that I won’t enumerate here, Israel has become a hub of innovation. Not just a hub of innovation; perhaps the other hub of innovation – of cross-fertilized innovation. That’s one of the advantages of being small. People meet up and talk to each other. If you’re a chemist, that you’ve just finished some work in the intelligence service and you meet a pilot who just was discharged from the Israeli Air Force, and he has an idea of how to use the helmet for surgery and you have the chemical that could be used in that same surgery, you actually join forces for something revolutionary in surgery. This is actually happening.
And so it goes and it goes and it goes all the time. In that small country of Israel you get gigantic leaps forward in innovation, with a structure of venture capital to finance it. So people leave their military service and they very naturally move into areas of entrepreneurship in hi-tech. We have of course the phenomena that produces what I called mushrooms after the rain. So we have a lot of mushrooms because of this climate. It’s very conducive to getting mushrooms – startup companies that begin to grow and they’re picked. They’re picked by American companies. They’re picked by Chinese companies or by German companies. They produce the basic technology and they’re transferring it to someone else. That’s fine. But it’s not as fine as something else.
So here’s something else that happened last week. I’ve been waiting for this a very long, long time, and it’s important for us and it’s important for China: Last week, Intel, a very large international company, bought a company, an automotive company in Israel – autonomous automotive technology, the wave of the future. It bought it in Jerusalem for 15 billion dollars. That’s a hefty sum. But the interesting thing about this purchase is that they didn’t just buy it and say, ‘Okay, some of you will move to Palo Alto.’ They said, ‘None of you will move to Palo Alto. In fact, we have some 30 other such businesses around the world for automotive technology, and we are subordinating everything to you, MobileEye. You run it for us.’ So Israel is now, at once, in one fell swoop, become the center of an enormous global industry – automotive technology, autonomous vehicles. It’s a huge industry.
Similar things are happening elsewhere. We have, for example – same thing exactly – developing with cyber security. We have a big investment in cyber security in the military. I have encouraged very much the development of a cyber security private business, and in 2016 in Israel, we received 20% of the global private investment in cyber security. That’s 200 times our relative weight in the world population. There are 500 startups in cyber security in Israel. There are 500 startups in automotive technology in Israel.
Now there’s a third area that’s developing and it’s called digital health. Because we have data, computerized data for just about every person in Israel, we can merge that data and have preventative medicine. We can also do this with fewer doctors, because it can be done by telemedicine, and we can also have targeted, personal medicine because the data is so much better. This will elongate life and reduce diseases. These are huge industries and I’ll be remiss because I’m telling you, there will be many more.
And one thing I’ve learned, at least from my background, is I don’t know. I don’t know where the next great breakouts of genius will come, but it is clear – it is clear for Israel, it is clear for China, it’s clear for everyone in the world. What is happening now is that every single field of human endeavor is becoming technologized. The distinction between hi-tech and low-tech is no longer valid. Everything is becoming hi-tech. Agriculture: hi-tech. Water: hi-tech. Air purification: hi-tech. IT: of course hi-tech. Medicine: hi-tech. Transport: hi-tech. And so on and so on and so on. And the future now belongs to those countries who can innovate, who can upgrade their products and services for the betterment of their citizens with these new technologies.
So here’s the particular marriage that I see between Israel and China. I think that there is an extraordinary capacity for China to assume its rightful place, as it’s doing, on the world stage. It depends on the consistent ability to elevate living standards with additional added value that can be supplied only by technology, because at a certain point, once you give roads, railroads, intersections, buildings – once you… Given the basic infrastructure of initial and secondary development – airports, sewage lines, water – once you’ve done that, the way to go up and up and up is to constantly improve your products and services and utilities with technology.
We are your perfect junior partner for that effort. And we think there are only two such concentrations of technology in the world for the moment, and we are one of them. We are eager to work with you. We’re going to sign with the government in the coming days a series of agreements on how we can pursue this cooperation, how we can help China in its plans and how China of course can enable us to participate in its great projects. But I believe this is a marriage made in heaven.”
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem/Photo credit: Haim Zach, GPO)