China’s Vice President Wang Qishan is set to arrive in Israel later this month for a three-day visit, according to the Israeli Ministry Of Foreign Affairs.
Qishan, who will arrive on October 22, will be the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit Israel in over a decade, preceded by former Chinese president Jiang Zemin in 2000.
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Qishan will be joined by a Chinese ministerial delegation to head the fourth China-Israel Innovation Committee. The delegation will reportedly include Alibaba founder Jack Ma.
The committee is set to take part in an Innovation Conference, organized by the Prime Minister Office’s. The event is set to take place on October 24, with another event at the the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation set for the following day, Israeli business daily Globes reported.
Prior to Qishan’s arrival, the Prime Minister’s Office acting director-general and chief of staff Yuval Horowitz will be visiting China as the head of a task force founded jointly by the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Prime Minister’s Office to “coordinate economic cooperation between Israel and China,” Globes said. Qishan is considered Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “second in command when it comes to economic and foreign relations.”
In July, Israeli Channel 10 reported that Netanyahu was considering forming a new government mechanism to oversee Chinese investment in Israel, and prevent takeovers of large Israeli corporations.
There have been a number of high-profile deals over the years, notably in 2014 when China’s Bright Food Group Co Ltd bought a controlling share of Israel’s largest food company, Tnuva, and in 2016 when Fosun International acquired Dead Sea skincare products company Ahava, for a reported $77 million.
A year earlier, Fosun International nearly bought a majority holding in a major Israeli insurance company, Phoenix Insurance but the deal fell through. The scrapped agreement underlined a major push by China-linked companies to acquire or buy controlling shares in the Israeli insurance market, efforts blocked by Israel.
A number of Chinese companies are also involved in ongoing major transportation and infrastructure projects in Israel.
As part of the Chinese delegation expected later this month, Ma will likely be one of the keynote speakers at the Innovation Conference. This will Ma’s second trip to Israel in less than a year. In May, he toured global VC firm Jerusalem Venture Partners, visited the office of Mobileye, the Jerusalem-based company acquired by Intel for $15.3 billion, and spoke to Tel Aviv University students, where he also received an honorary doctorate.
Israel is the site of one of eight global R&D centers for Alibaba, which is invested in a number of Israeli startups.
Ma announced last month that he will resign as chairperson of Alibaba, set to take effect in September 2019.