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China and Israel Chinese, Jews; Beijing, Jerusalem (1890–2018) Jewish Identities in Post-Modern Society Series Editor: Roberta Rosenberg Farber (Yeshiva University, New York) Editorial Board Sara Abosch (University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee) Geoffrey Alderman (University of Buckingham, Buckingham) Yoram Bilu (Hebrew University, Jerusalem) Steven M. Cohen (Hebrew Union College, New York) Deborah Dash Moore (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor) Bryan Daves (Yeshiva University, New York) Sergio Della Pergola (Hebrew University, Jerusalem) Simcha Fishbane (Touro College, New York) Uzi Rebhun (Hebrew University, Jerusalem) Reeva Simon (Yeshiva University, New York) China and Israel Chinese, Jews; Beijing, Jerusalem (1890–2018) ARON SHAI B oston 2019 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Shai, Aron, author. Title: China and Israel : Chinese, Jews; Beijing, Jerusalem (1890-2018) / Aron Shai. Other ṿe-Yiśraʼel. titles: Sin English Description: Boston : Academic Studies Press, 2019. | Series: Jewish identities in post-modern society | Includes bibliographical references and index. | Identifiers: LCCN 2018054902 (print) | LCCN 2018057750 (ebook) | ISBN 9781618118967 (ebook) | ISBN 9781618118943 (hardcover) | ISBN 9781618118950 (pbk.) Subjects: LCSH: Israel–Foreign relations–China. | China–Foreign relations–Israel. | Israelis– China. | Jews–China. Classification: LCC DS119.8.C5 (ebook) | LCC DS119.8.C5 S5313 2019 (print) | DDC 303.48/256940510904–dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2018054902 © Academic Studies Press, 2019 ISBN 978-1-618118-94-3 (hardcover) ISBN 978-1-618118-96-7 (electronic) ISBN 978-1-618118-95-0 (paperback) Book design by Lapiz Digital Services. Cover illustration by Avi Katz, reproduced by permission. Published by Academic Studies Press 28 Montfern Avenue Brighton, MA 02135, USA press@academicstudiespress.com www.academicstudiespress.com In memory of Geoffrey Hudson and Richard Storry, my mentors at Oxford Contents Preface: My Road to China#8; 1 Structure and Contents#8; 13 Introduction: Jewish Communities in China#8; 16 The Kaifeng Community#8; 16 Judaism as a Popular Religion#8; 18 The Harbin Community#8; 20 Religious, Cultural, and Social Institutions#8; 22 Harbin Jews Following the Japanese Occupation#8; 23 The Baghdadi Sephardic Community in Shanghai#8; 25 Institutions of the Baghdadi Jewish Community in Shanghai#8; 27 The Russian Jewish Community in Shanghai#8; 29 The European Refugee Community in Shanghai#8; 30 Decline of the Shanghai Communities#8; 32 The Hong Kong Community#8; 34 Other Jewish Communities in China#8; 35 Chapter One: 1948 to 1955—The Early Years of Trial and Error#8; 37 Mutual Recognition and Establishment of Diplomatic Relations#8; 42 Israel Recognizes the People’s Republic of China#8; 46 Initial Ties#8; 50 Burma, Russia, and India Help Initiate Contact#8; 53 The Israeli Commercial Delegation to China#8; 56 A Missed Historical Opportunity?#8; 62 viii Contents Chapter Two: Moshe and Ya’akov—Two Jews in China#8; 68 Moshe (Morris) Cohen#8; 68 Jacob Rosenfeld#8; 73 Chapter Three: 1948 to 1956—Behind the Scenes#8; 82 Members of Leftist Israeli Parties Visit China#8; 83 Other Israeli Visits to China#8; 88 The Parliamentary Front in Israel#8; 91 Chapter Four: 1955 to 1978—No Contact#8; 95 The Israel Communist Party and the Chinese Communist Party: The Great Leap Backward#8; 99 View from Afar: “Going Behind the Wall”#8; 102 Chapter Five: Clandestine Contact—Shaul Eisenberg in China#8; 108 Global Business#8; 109 Business in Korea#8; 111 On the Road to Israel#8; 113 One Billion Chinese Await#8; 116 Eisenberg’s Influence on China–Israel Relations#8; 118 After Eisenberg’s Death#8; 123 Chapter Six: How to Lose Money in China—The Stories of Four Israeli Companies#8; 125 Israeli Businesspeople Try Their Luck in China#8; 128 The Case of Sano#8; 129 Not Worth Peanuts—The Case of Osem#8; 134 Lessons Learned#8; 137 A Guide to Losing Money in China: The Next Generation #8; 139 DavidShield#8;140 Kardan Israel Ltd.#8; 146 Contents ix Chapter Seven: 1992 to 2018: Beijing and Jerusalem—The Last Battle?#8; 157 China, Israel, and Hong Kong#8; 166 Patience Pays Off: Gradual Establishment of Diplomatic Relations#8; 167 China–Israel Relations since 1992#8; 170 Despite All, a Relationship#8; 177 Chapter Eight: China, Israel, and Other Spheres#8; 194 China, the Palestinians, and the Middle East#8; 194 Iran–China–Israel#8;201 China’s Relations with North Korea #8; 205 Relations between Israel and Taiwan (Nationalist China) #8; 206 China in the International Sphere#8; 214 The Future of Israel–China Relations#8; 216 Chapter Nine: Me, China, and Everyone Else#8; 220 The Confucius Institute: Founding, Crises, and Return to Routine #8; 226 Signs of Conciliation #8; 230 Disseminating the Chinese Language#8; 233 More Questions, This Time from Guangzhou #8; 234 Chapter Ten: Review So Far, and What’s Next?#8; 239 Bibliography#8; 244 Archives, Official Sources, and Sources without an Author#8; 244 Hebrew and Chinese sources#8; 244 English sources#8; 245 Books and Periodicals (Hebrew)#8; 246 Books and Periodicals (English and Chinese)#8; 250 Interviews#8; 255 Index#8; 256 Preface My Road to China This book, which has been many years in the making, is a collage composed of numerous and varied perspectives on the Israel–China saga. In August 2007, I was due to fly to the United States to begin a semester sabbatical at New York University, but unfortunately, my long-awaited journey was briefly delayed by illness. I was hospitalized for several days at Sha’arei Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem, where for generations some members of my family had been healed while others, unfortunately, had drawn their final breaths. I felt that finally I had been granted a forced break that allowed for introspection and reflection or, to use Aristotle’s term, contemplation. During my stay in the hospital, I reached some conclusions and made a number of decisions. Perhaps, I thought, there was a positive side to my situation. I recalled the story in the ancient Jewish texts about Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanos, whose brothers sent him to plow on the side of a mountain. When his cow fell down and was maimed, Rabbi Eliezer declared, “It was fortunate for me that my cow was maimed.” Indeed, his misfortune resulted in a positive outcome, as he then immersed himself in the world of Torah learning, and the great men of the nation came to sit before him. In a parallel Chinese legend, 1 the saying Sàiwēngshīmǎ also hints at how bad luck can be reversed. In 2 this case, an old man’s warhorse runs away across the Mongolian border, 1 In another version of this story, the hero is Abba Yudan, a wealthy man who fell on hard times. While he was plowing the reduced field that he had left, the earth split beneath him. His cow fell into the crevasse and broke her leg. When he bent down to lift the cow up, he discovered a huge trea also shared this naïve optimism. Historian Ya’akov Talmon might have identified it as “that spark of political messianism that infects the Jews.” 4 Preface My relationship with China thus developed behind an ideological lens. As a socialist (today I can say old-school socialist with updates mandated by time), I believed that Beijing, not Moscow or Washington, would be the harbinger of a new and challenging vision for the Third World nations. My imagination was captured by leaders such as Zhou Enlai—an experienced diplomat, an intelligent man of action, refined and principled. I thought he seemed like a friendly man (recently published works, particularly the study by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, describe him as Mao’s spine3 puppet and a low-level opportunist). At any rate, this was before the Cultural Revolution in China, a time of sober national reflection after the failure of Mao’s Great Leap Forward, that foolish attempt to achieve utopian, eschatological socialism in the here and now. China’s behavior was moderate. At times, it seemed that China was finally joining the international community and positioning itself firmly on a pragmatic trajectory that was recognizable to all. In retrospect, had I joined thinkers such as Gottfried Liebnitz, Louis Le Comte, Etienne Silhouette, Jean-Baptiste Duhold, and Voltaire—in other words, all those who followed Francois Quesnay, who promoted the “Chinese dream” of almost unchecked admiration for China? To me, Israel before the Six Day War, or the “First Republic” as I usually call it, was not only my beloved homeland but also a nascent utopia, the fulfillment of Isaiah’s vision of peace and harmony that would reign at the end of days. As I saw it, thorough knowledge of China could advance that dream. In 1964, when I was a young man visiting Belgrade, capital of the former Yugoslavia, I attempted to visit the Chinese embassy to obtain firsthand public relations material about current events there. I had also finally resolved to learn Chinese. But the visit was a failure—the authorities wouldn’t permit me to enter the building or speak to anyone. In those days after the Great Leap Forward and before the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese were a locked box, a long way from the friendliness that I had naïvely imagined in my youth. At the Hebrew University at Givat Ram in Jerusalem, I continued my academic studies and began to learn Chinese in a small group with a handful of other students. In those days I envisioned a rapprochement between China and Israel, as there were similar characteristics in their ethos, such as their attitudes toward tradition and to the family unit. To me, China and Israel were 3 Mao: The Unknown Story. Preface 5 more than just another pair of nations about which academics could write dissertations that were far removed from the reality of international relations. The two countries bore important messages that I believed were worth promoting. Eventually, my research and teaching on the topic of China–Israel relations convinced me of the depth of historical and cultural similarity between them. When the Six Day War broke out, I found myself facing a new dilemma. On one hand, many Israelis were swept up in patriotic fervor following the return to historic regions that we had studied from afar and that we longed for atavistically, in theory as the heritage of our ancient forefathers. I fought in Jerusalem, and I heard the cries of jubilation at the liberation of the Western Wall, where I was one of the first to visit, as well as Rachel’s Tomb and other historical sites. The excitement conquered my imagination. Still, I realized all too quickly that over the long term, domination of the “New Territories,” as they were called then, would drag the Zionist enterprise into dire straits. How could I apply my thoughts about the new China, where the Great Cultural Revolution had begun a year earlier in 1966, to the new situation in Israel? Were there lessons from China’s experience that Israel could adopt? In contrast to my deliberations over these dilemmas, another student in my Chinese language class, a kibbutz member who was older than I was, expressed confidence in his views and saved himself the soul-searching. He was a radical who admired Mao, and he was certain that the Cultural Revolution would bring salvation to the entire world. In our conversations he always expressed himself unambiguously. Like me, he was also drafted into service in the IDF during the Six Day War. After the war was over, he told me that he had participated in the occupation of Gaza, but “I couldn’t aim my gun at the so-called enemies, so I shot up at the sky.” He told me that on the eve of the war, during the waiting period before attack, he had written a personal letter to Chinese leader Mao Zedong, warning against Israeli aggression and rising Israeli imperialism. He was deeply disappointed that he never received a reply, particularly since he had asked Mao to intervene and prevent Israel from entering the war. We had many discussions about the Cultural Revolution, which was then in its early days. Despite the evidence of extreme violence and intolerance, he remained firm to hi ld. Undoubtedly, the history department at Tel Aviv University was worthy of admiration. Its reputation was widespread, not just in Israel but in Preface 7 academic circles across the ocean. Six of its members were awarded the Israel Prize. It boasted a large number of tenured positions and offered a broad variety of courses, majors, and tracks. The ancient world, medieval period, and early modern history were perhaps the jewels in the crown, but modern history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were also points of pride. Yavetz was completely unwilling to adopt my suggestion that I teach the history of China and East Asia, not even as a fraction of my teaching hours. But at the time, in the early 1970s, I was one of the few people in Israel who had studied modern Chinese history, in addition to my focus on England and imperialism. Yavetz didn’t believe in the importance of the non-European regions and insisted that I had to learn German and focus on Germany. Eventually I did manage to teach on China, practically underground, as part of a survey course entitled “China—From Empire to Republic.” The course covered international events and internal developments in China from the Opium War until Mao’s successors. It was not until the 1990s that I managed to convince the dean of the faculty and the university president of the demand for this subject. Finally, I was able to initiate the opening of the Department of East Asian Studies at Tel Aviv University, and it was as if a dam had burst—students flocked to the departmental office to register. Twenty years later, the number of students surpassed seven hundred, and ours became the largest academic department in the Faculty of Humanities of Tel Aviv University, and the largest in Israel. My first visit to China was in September 1989, three months after the events in Tiananmen Square, eventually known in the West as the Tiananmen Massacre. To me it felt like a return visit, as I had been following events in the country for many years through its maps, stories, books, and economic developments. A feeling of déjà vu accompanied me throughout my trip, as if my eyes had seen every corner there in a previous reincarnation. I arrived as academic leader of a small group of students, and we toured the distant land for a month, during which we heard comprehensive lectures on a host of issues related to China. The experience was particularly meaningful for me, since China had long been my heart’s desire. My decades-old dream was finally realized. But even then, I was disappointed to note many telltale cracks appearing in Chinese society. Thirteen years after Mao’s death and the formal end of the Cultural Revolution, I observed economic gaps and their social consequences in Chinese society, which had extracted itself from the revolutionary and cultural chaos that had led to almost complete equality. After 8 Preface that point, I observed beggars on the streets of Beijing alongside villagers in worn rags, while beside them strolled members of the new, affluent middle class. As I was an idealist who supported the ideal of equality, I felt drawn to probing the issue of Chinese socialism. Was China exhibiting a retreat from the principles that I admired, and that had attracted me to it in the first place? Would China’s opening to the world at large and the international commercial market mean that in the future I would see enormous skyscraper hotels with restaurants revolving in their towers, alongside slums like the ones I observed in Beijing? At a time that neighborhoods still had public toilets, since private homes had no bathrooms, luxury high-rises sprouted simultaneously across the street. My idealistic, utopian image of China as the model state was also shaken by my first encounter with the security forces. When our group arrived at Tiananmen Square, the “Gate of Heavenly Peace,” soldiers stopped us and did not permit us to enter. Since we were very close to the incident in the Square, both geographically and chronologically, I was very interested in the details of events during the first days of June that year. I soon realized that people who had been present in the Square didn’t know exactly what had happened either. The statistics about victims in the Square varied widely. At Heathrow Airport, while on our way to Beijing, I had bought a book that described the Tiananmen Massacre in harsh words and grisly photos. This was a mass market book, published quickly and without thorough research, but of the type that makes a powerful first impression. When I showed it to one of the guides that accompanied us in China, he turned white. He was petrified. He stared silently at the photos, and although he himself had been present at the Tiananmen Square during the events, it seemed to me that he was discovering new, shocking information. He suggested to me in a friendly manner that I hide the book and not show it to anyone else. During one of our first tours of the Forbidden City, a formal delegation arrived at the famous site. Unidentified guards firmly pushed aside the ordinary tourists, both locals and foreigners. Our own tour guide implored us to leave the site immediately. In my diary, I wrote that everywhere, the fear of authority was palpable. The most important milestone of progress in the establishment of relations between China and Israel was the opening of the Chinese embassy in Tel Aviv in 1992. I was in contact with several of its representatives, particularly Ms. Zhang Xiao-an, the deputy ambassador. At the same time, I had contact with the representatives of Taiwan stationed in Tel Aviv at what was Preface 9 known as the “Taipei Cultural and Economic Office.” Of course, navigating between these two entities wasn’t easy, as the Chinese embassy was very wary of Israelis who had any contact with the Taiwanese office. A rumor even went around that the Chinese were spying on the receptions given by the Taiwanese to find out which Israelis were consorting with the enemy. Throughout my dealings with the Chinese, I was surprised by the embassy’s efficiency of operation. Its staff was well-informed of what was going on in Israel and even in the East Asian Studies Department at Tel Aviv University, including activities and names of lecturers. In one case, an embassy attaché phoned me and asked, or rather demanded, that we cancel a planned lecture on the Falun Gong movement. I explained to him the meaning of 4 academic freedom in Israel, but he was not convinced. He simply insisted that we cancel the lecture. Over the years they interfered in other events as well, such as their attempt to remove an exhibit of Falun Gong supporters in the entrance to the main library. I also had close contact with the Taiwanese representatives in Israel, and they invited me to visit their country. When I was researching my biography of Zhang Xueliang, I requested their assistance in arranging a meeting with him in Hawaii. They tried their best to comply, but returned to me in disappointment. The general was almost one hundred years old, ill, and could not receive me. Shortly afterward, he died, and my dream of a meeting evaporated. 5 After the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and China, much discussion ensued on the background of each culture, Chinese 4 Falun Gong (法轮功) or Falun Dafa (法轮大法). This spiritual movement was founded in 1992 by Li Hongzhi. It focuses on meditation and slow qigong exercises (physical movements based on spiritual principles), and emphasizes moral development as well. Since the late 1990s, when the number of Falun Gong practitioners reached tens of millions, the Chinese Communist Party has energetically worked to discourage this movement, and in 1999 the Chinese authorities under Jiang Zemin declared it an illegal practice. Much evidence (although it is disputed) shows that this categorization led to the violent suppression, imprisonment and torture of Falun Gong members, and even harvesting of their organs for international trafficking. 5 General Zhang Xueliang, nicknamed the “Young Marshal,” was a Manchurian Chinese. Born in 1901, he ruled under the nationalist regime of Chiang Kai-shek and plotted with the communists to organize the kidnapping of his commander. For this, he was Zhang Xueliang: The General placed under house arrest for over fifty years. My book Who Never Fought, discusses his life against the background of the history of modern China. 10 Preface and Jewish, in an attempt to identify their shared foundation and unifying factors. David Libai had participated in the same tour of China in 1989 as I did, and he was later appointed Minister of Justice in Yitzhak Rabin’s government. Before his first formal trip to China, he asked me to write his chief address. It was a great pleasure for me to write this address; for me, this was an opportunity to point out shared aspects of the two nations. When discussing these two celebrated, ancient peoples located at the two extremes of the Asian continent, we noted that China’s inhabitants had lived in their country continuously, but the Jews did not have the privilege of remaining in their homeland for long. In fact, after the destruction of the Second Temple, the Jews’ national existence in their homeland ended for hundreds of years. Thus the story of the Jewish people’s return to their land and reestablishment of a national home is an experience unfamiliar to the Chinese. Around 1850 BCE, during the rule of the quasi-mythological Xia dynasty, the first to earn mention in the records of Chinese historians, the Jewish forefather Abraham made his way from Ur of the Chaldees in Mesopotamia to the Land of Israel. His descendants experienced several exiles from their land. Still, the similarities between these two peoples overcome their differences. The written language, which is the focus for the development of every human culture and for preservation of the values accumulated over generations, was preserved in both the Jewish and Chinese cultures. This is a rare core that no other nation in the world (except for Greece) has enjoyed for such a long history. In most of the world, languages have undergone processes of disruption and distortion. Both cultures nurture the family unit, with rituals and ceremonies providing a firm foundation for cultural continuity. It would be superfluous to expand on the importance of the Bible and the significance of the Oral Torah in Judaism, and the same is true for the special importance of the writings of the Chinese philosophers—Confucius, Lao Tzu, and their successors. Both cultures place a high value on learning, introspection, and study of the secrets of the universe and of human existence. Neither sanctified the military ethic, and violent combat was spurned. A Chinese proverb emphasizes that just as one does not forge nails from quality metal, so one does not mold soldiers from fine men. We find similar expression of 6 6 好鐵不當釘; 好兒不當兵 Pinyin: Hǎo tiě bùdāng dīng; hǎo er bùdāng bīng. Preface 11 the ideal of peace and tranquility in the prophecies of Isaiah, and in the 7 writings of Chinese philosophers such as Mencius. Confucius emphasized the values of family, honoring one’s parents, tradition, and ceremony, values that Jews have held dear for millennia. Several decades ago, a book of Confucius’ analects was translated into Hebrew, and it received much attention in Israel. 8 Although every generation has a desire to rebel, change, and improve, both cultures have preserved their traditional principles. When Confucius was asked to give one word that would serve as a guideline for life, he answered, “Reciprocity,” and expanded, using almost the same phrase as Hillel the Elder: “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” In the hundreds of lectures that I have given on China throughout my academic career, I felt that despite my fifty years of studying the culture, history, and economy of this distant land, I was never able to completely break down the barrier between my “Israeliness” and complete internalization of “Chineseness.” Although I believed in my ability to understand in an academic context the historical processes that affected China, I was repeatedly astonished at the wonders and surprises presented by this country. Furthermore, I eventually realized that there was a wide gap between the Judeo-Christian ethos and the cultural tenets of East Asia and China, a gap that was very difficult to bridge. The European worldview is dichotomous and has distinct categories: good and bad, pure and impure, male and female, light and dark, yes and no. This decisiveness parallels the Israeli mentality and language, appearing in expressions such as “Are you coming or not?”; “Do you agree or disagree?”; “Do you accept this or not?”; “Are you communist or capitalist? Religious or secular?” But this approach does not fit the Chinese view of life. Chinese culture was inspired by a philosophical and ethical system that is thousands of years old and is based on yin yang. Yin the concept of and means negative, darkness, the cloudy or northern side of the mountain, while yang represents the positive, light, 7 It will come to pass at the end of days.... They will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation; neither will they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:2–4). 8 In the introduction to their translation, which was published in 1960, Daniel Lesley and Amatzia Porat wrote that because the classic was written during the period of Ezra and Nehemiah (early Second Temple period), they decided to use biblical style in their translation, to match the general ideas found in Judaism as well. In Amira Katz’s 2006 translation of Confucius’ analects, she uses modern Hebrew, mainly in order to render his ideas accessible to the younger generation. 12 Preface and the abundance of the sun’s warmth. But although these forces may seem to be working against each other, in fact they are interrelated and interdependent, like Siamese twins. They represent the unity of opposites. Further, they nurture each other. Pairs in nature, such as light and dark, warmth and cold, and even life and death express the concept of yin/yang, which forms the foundation of China’s philosophy as well as its science, medicine, and military arts. I believe that this sophisticated spectrum, which enfolds opposites in a single embrace, holds the key to understanding China. It is the only way we can understand, for example, the Open Door Policy that China has adopted in the modern era, which permits a rare coexistence between the free economic market and a police state controlled by the Communist Party. I do not have space here to pursue this philosophical issue, but I will offer an instructive example, which Henry Kissinger presents in his book on China. 9 Kissinger emphasizes the diplomatic and strategic implications of this thesis. In his view, the Chinese are experts in realpolitik. Their strategic approach is completely different from that practiced in the West. History has taught them that not every problem has a solution. In opposition to the accepted belief in the West (including many sectors in Israel), the belief in the ability to achieve complete domination over events—whether a crisis, dispute, or any other definitive historical event—is merely an illusion. The actions resulting from this illusion can disrupt the world’s harmony. Security, or even complete satisfaction, cannot be found in our world. Rather, it is the roundabout, sophisticated path, which sometimes focuses on wearing down the opponent, that provides the desired relative advantage. This concept finds ample expression in the difference or contrast between two games that are representative of the two cultures: chess, and the Chinese wei qi or go (围棋), in which the object is to surround the most territory. As opposed to chess, in which the winner is usually the player who has completely destroyed his opponent by pursuing the king and removing it, the Chinese game has no clear, definitive goal that marks the end or the winner. Instead, the game ends when the players have no more interest or desire to continue. At this point, the players count the points on the squares of the game board, which represent the territory that each one On China, 9 Kissinger, 23–25. Preface 13 has captured. The winner is whoever earns the most points. The uninitiated observer of the board after a game between skilled players cannot immediately determine the winner in a decisive manner. While chess emphasizes the conclusive battle, go focuses on a battle of attrition in which the participant works calmly to achieve a relative advantage. In chess the pieces are readily observable, identifiable, and constantly prepared for action, while in the Chinese game the player must correctly evaluate and consider not only the pieces present on the board but also the reserves available to his opponent, which he can throw into the ring. Mao Zedong’s military theory drew on similar ancient Chinese philosophies, and thus it largely relied on the concept of indirect warfare through the use of “empty” terrain, bypass techniques, and flexible strategy. Structure and Contents While this book differs from my previous research works, it resembles the two historical novels and the biography of Zhang Xueliang that I published. In the novels I attempted to breathe life into the characters and make the reading experience as captivating as possible, alongside careful presentation of the historical framework. The biography, which was published in Hebrew, English, and Chinese, is an exact factual depiction of the man and the state, but it also has a narrative element. 10 This book rests on three foundations. The first is historical-political, and analyzes the bilateral relationship between the two countries—Israel and China. As is accepted in academia, it relies on primary and secondary documents, insofar as these were available to me while writing this book. In Origins of the War in the East: Britain, China, Japan 1937– 10 My academic works in English: 1939, London: Croom Helm, 1976; Britain and China 1941–1947: Imperial Momentum, London: Macmillan, St. Antony’s College, Oxford and St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1984; The Fate of British and French Firms in China 1949–1954: Imperialism Imprisoned, Houndmills, Basingstoke: Macmillan in association with St. Antony’s College, Oxford, 1996; Zhang Xueliang: The General Who Never Fought, Houndmills, Basingstoke: BenHazar, Son to a Stranger, Macmillan, 2012; Jerusalem: Gefen Publishing House, 2009. In Hebrew: From the Opium War to Mao’s Successors: China in the International Sphere, 1840–1990, China in the Twentieth Century, Tel Aviv: Zmora-Bitan, 1990; Tel Aviv: Ministry of Defense Publishing Department, Broadcast University, 1998; Benhazar, She Called Him Mano, Novels (in Hebrew): Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 1990; Tel Aviv: Zmora-Bitan, 1997; Zhang Xueliang: The General Who Never Fought, Or Yehuda: Zmora-Bitan, 2008. 14 Preface Israel I used material from the national archives and secondary material 11 written by my fellow researchers and myself. In addition, I conducted 12 interviews with Israelis who were instrumental in forming the relationship between Israel and China. The second foundation is the story of several central figures who are woven throughout the story of China’s relationship with the Jews before the establishment of the State of Israel, and with Israelis after the state was founded. For example, I summarize the fascinating story of Moshe Cohen, known as Morris (“Two Gun”) Cohen, who according to several versions of the story, was Sun Yat-sen’s assistant. I also relate the unique and little-known story of Dr. Jacob Rosenfeld, which begins between the two world wars in Vienna and ends in Tel Aviv, three years after Israel’s independence. In the interim, he spent a decade in China. I also relate 13 the colorful, positive, but also disappointing experiences of major Israeli businessmen and their companies in recent years. This foundation offers a glimpse into the personal aspect and into the world of the Israeli companies that do business with China. The third foundation is a personal one, and it is mainly expressed in this introduction and in the last chapter. It comprises my sketches and musings as an academic. Beginning in the early 1960s, I conducted a consistent observation of events in China and the transformations that it underwent, recorded them, and lectured on them. Thus this book contains over fifty years of insight on China and the Chinese. This tripartite foundation is reflected in the structure of the book, which enables readers to examine various themes in the order that they prefer. The book is based on testimonials, documents, letters, interviews, and current studies, and on insights that I have collected over the course of the past fifty years. In Chinese the surname is written before the given name. Sometimes different versions are given for the same name, in accordance with the 11 Gallia Lindenstrauss wrote an unpublished study of Israel-Chinese relations from 1950–1992 (Jerusalem, 1994), under my direction. See pages 92–106 of her study. Appendices 2–12 are reprinted documents from the archives of the Israel Ministry of Defense. References to this archive refer to these appendices. 12 See, for example, Yegar, The Long Road to Asia [Hebrew]; Goldstein (ed.), China and Israel; China and Anti-Terrorism; Sino–Israeli Relations. Shen (ed.), and Shai, 13 These chapters are mainly based on two books that document comprehensive research on these individuals. On Moshe Cohen: Daniel S. Levy, Two-Gun Cohen: A Biography, General Luo Genannt Langnase and on Jacob Rosenfeld: Gerd Kaminski, [in German]. Preface 15 accepted form in different regions of China and its environs. Transliteration of well-known place names such as Beijing, Guangzhou, or Shandong are non-hyphenated. Historically, romanization was not always uniform, since various spelling systems were used according to the period, place, or local custom, which often caused variety in the original spellings. At any rate, the index in the back of the book enables rapid identification of the pinyin spelling used here. *** It was natural that aside from my involvement in general history and East Asian Studies, I would also focus on Israel–China relations and consider describing and analyzing this issue in a book. But this book would never have reached publication without the professional assistance of my research assistants at Tel Aviv University, especially Rinat Shachar, Avital Rom, Roni Deshe and Or Biron, outstanding graduates of the East Asian Studies Department, who have assisted me in my work in recent years. Or Biron accompanied me to interviews and also provided great assistance in editing sections of the book and offering helpful suggestions. I offer my sincere thanks to all of you. I would also like to thank Mrs. Jessica Setbon, who so professionally translated this study into English while providing her helpful insights. As Shaul N. Eisenberg Professor of East Asian Affairs, I have benefited from the assistance of Mrs. Lea Nobuko-Eisenberg and the support of her daughter Emily and son-in-law Horacio Furman, true friends of the East Asian Studies Department at Tel Aviv University. Unfortunately, this limited space does not permit me to list the names of the interviewees (they are mentioned in the text of the book and the bibliography), friends, colleagues, and all those who encouraged me along the path to publication of this book. Last in order but first Between Revival and Obliteration,” 38–53. 15 Herbert, “Der Weg nach Osten” [German], 36. 16 Leslie, “Integration, Assimilation and Survival,” 50. 18 Introduction into Chinese culture. They adopted Chinese family names and even sat for the imperial exams, a system for selecting and recruiting government clerks through rigorous examinations. Adopting Chinese family names led to 17 assimilation of the Chinese family dynasty model and was also an outward sign of this process. This practice created a linear family line, headed by an ancestral, mythical forefather who was considered founder of the dynasty and was accorded appropriate honor. Thus the Jewish families of Kaifeng followed the traditional Chinese practice of hanging pictures of the dynastic forefathers on the walls. The significance of this was integration into the Chinese ethos, and from here it was only a short step for Jewish men to adopt the Chinese practice of marrying several wives, including Chinese women. During the Manchurian Qing dynasty (1644–1911), the Jews in Kaifeng continued to preserve their traditions and customs on the one hand, and on the other, to assimilate into the Chinese environment. For example, in the seventeenth century they adopted the Chinese custom of burying the dead in family plots. Yet the Jews continued to observe some of the Jewish mitz18 or religious laws. This situation continued until the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. By the nineteenth century, according to Protestant missionaries, the members of the Kaifeng Jewish community had the same outward appearance as the Chinese among whom they lived. Judaism as a Popular Religion The Chinese viewed Judaism as a popular religion, just one more of the host of such religions that had existed in China throughout its history. These creeds combined a wide variety of beliefs and streams of thought that originated in Confucianism, Daoism, and the Chinese form of Buddhism. The 19 Chinese defined Judaism as a religion or a separate religious group that had a religious leader (jiaozhu and a temple for its worshippers. The 教主) Chinese used the term jing (经) for the community’s sacred texts—the same term used to describe the Chinese classics. 17 Eber, Sinim ve-yehudim: mifgashim bein tarbuyot [Chinese and Jews: Intercultural Encounters] [Hebrew], 21 18 Ibid., 22. 19 Irene Eber thinks that the identity of Judaism as one of many sects did not harm it, but rather enabled its preservation for centuries, since the community existed as a separate Chinese and Jews, group. See Eber, 51. Introduction 19 The Chinese called Judaism “the sect of those who pick out tendons” (a reference to Jewish dietary practices); “the sect of those who teach Torah”; and “Muslims who wear the blue cap.” The Jews, however, used 20 other names to refer to themselves, such as “followers of the Torah.” The 21 term (犹太人) which is used today is a relatively late term that apparently originated in the nineteenth century and was probably chosen as proper transliteration of the word Judah. The Jews of Kaifeng followed rabbinic practice, as opposed to Karaite. However, Jesuit missionaries who reached Kaifeng noted that the Jewish community possessed no copies of the Babylonian or Jerusalem Talmud. Any such texts had apparently been lost over time. The chief rabbi and community leader was called wuseda, the Chinese pronunciation of the usted, which in Persian means rabbi or lord. Rabbis of lower status also served the community, most from families named Li and Ai. 22 The Kaifeng synagogue was an important center of community life. It was erected in 1163 by Rabbi Levi and remodeled and reconstructed at least ten times. One of these reconstructions took place in 1279. A stone 23 inscription found at the site notes that the synagogue was located “southeast of the produce market street and its perimeter was 35 jang in length (about 106 meters).” In 1642, the synagogue was destroyed in a flood and 24 refurbished with the financial assistance of a senior official named Zhao Yingcheng (1619–57). In 1663, the synagogue was reconstructed, and it 25 housed thirteen Torah scrolls written with black ink on parchment made of sheep or goat skin. These scrolls were repaired by members of the Jewish community after the flood of 1642. Seven of them were restored and are still preserved today. Possibly, the other scrolls also survived, but their location is unknown, and we may assume that they are in the possession of various collectors. The synagogue continued its activity and was remodeled many 26 times, but finally destroyed in 1852 after floods so severe that they caused the Yellow River to diverge from its course. Kaifeng Jewry gradually adopted Confucian principles, an expression of their assimilation into the local population, but the Jews preserved Jewish 20 tiaojinjiao 挑筋教, jiaojingjiao 教经教, lanmaohuihui 蓝帽回回. 21 jiaozhong 教众 or jiaoren 教人. 22 Pollak, Mandarins, Jews, and Missionaries, 298. 23 Xu Xin, “On the Religious Life of the Kaifeng Jewish Community,” 131. 24 Shatzman Steinhardt, “The Synagogue at Kaifeng,” 7. 25 Leslie, “Integration, Assimilation and Survival,” 51. 26 Pollak, “The Manuscripts and Artifacts,” 83–85. 20 Introduction theological concepts and ethical values. An example of this syncretism between Judaism and Confucianism appears in a stone inscription from 1489, which explicitly states that Judaism and Confucianism have shared values, and that the difference between them is mainly in the texts. The Jews observed certain Jewish ceremonies very carefully, and most observed the rituals and laws of the Sabbath, Passover, Yom Kippur, Tisha b’Av, and other holidays. They also observed Jewish burial rites, mourning customs, and maintained their belief in one God. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Jews assimilated into their environment, and their physical appearance grew to resemble that of the Chinese. Sometime around the turn of the twentieth century or slightly afterward, the connection was lost between the Jewish community in China and Jewish communities in other locations around the world (as an exception, a certain connection was created with the members of the Jewish Sefardi community in Shanghai). The Chinese Jews no longer considered themselves as a separate or foreign group, but rather as one tile in the mosaic of communities and sects in China. Eventually, the unique character of the Kaifeng Jewish community faded, and members of the community completely blended into their environment and underwent deep processes of sinification. There is no evidence that Christian missionaries (Jesuit or Protestant) ever succeeded in converting any of the Jews in China. The Harbin Community Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe reached the border of China and the city of Harbin, which developed into a major metropolis following construction of the Chinese Eastern Railway, which began in 1898 as a branch of the Trans-Siberian Railway. The Manchurian government granted Russia the rights to lay a railway line in Manchuria (Dongbei and a branch 东北), of the railroad also extended to Dalian, the southern port city in the region. Travel was now made easier for European passengers and immigrants, including many Jews. The first Jews came to Harbin from Siberia or the western regions of Russia, fleeing from pogroms, expulsions, and restrictions passed against them there. 27 In 1903, the Jewish community built a synagogue in the city. One year later, hundreds of Jews arrived in Harbin following pogroms in southern 27 Kaufman, Yehadut Harbin asher be-libi [Harbin Jewry in my heart] [Hebrew], 12–13. Introduction 21 Russia. The Russo–Japanese War (1904–5) provided additional momentum for the growth of the Jewish population of the city. Some Jewish soldiers in the Russian czar’s army abandoned their units and remained behind in Harbin. After the war, a number of these Jews settled in the city instead of returning to their homes in Russia. One of the Jewish soldiers who stayed 28 in Harbin was Joseph Trumpeldor. He passed through the city with his 29 troop while returning from wartime imprisonment in Japan and was prounteroffizier, there to the rank of thus apparently becoming the first Jewish officer in the Russian army. 30 In 1914, after the First World War broke out, a third wave of Jews came to Harbin. Like their predecessors, these Jews enjoyed freedom and fair treatment from the local residents and the authorities. In 1920 the Jewish community of Harbin numbered some thirteen thousand individuals. In the following years, it grew to reach twenty-five thousand. The fourth wave of Jewish immigrants arrived during the Bolshevik Revolution and after the First World War. After this, some Jews moved out from Harbin to other Chinese cities, such as Dalian, Mukden, Tianjin, and Shanghai. Despite the difficult situation in China after the fall of the Qing dynasty, the Harbin Jewish community continued to blossom. The Jews dealt in commerce, trades, and agriculture, and they even established financial institutions (such as “The Jewish People’s Bank”), educational and medical organizations, and print media. The Jewish community reached 31 its peak from 1914 to 1931, when the Chinese still held control of the town, before the Japanese occupation. Among the organizations created then was HEDO (Harbinskoe Evreiskoe Duhovnoe Obshestvo—Harbin Jewish Religious Community), which assisted in the establishment of other community institutions and aided refugees. HEDO offered lodging for the needy, medical aid, academic scholarships, and other assistance. The financial resources for the community organizations came mostly from a tax on the community members based on their income. During the years surveyed until the end of World War II in 1945, the community had two 28 Eber, Chinese and Jews, 34. 29 Laskov, Trumpeldor: Sipur hayav [Trumpeldor: A biography] [Hebrew], 30. 30 Prof. Dan Ben-Canaan, who lived in Harbin and became an expert on the Jews of the city, relates that there are several versions of the story of Trumpeldor’s stay in the city. According to old Russian sources, he remained there for two years, but there is no other evidence of this. At any rate, he apparently stayed there for longer than a tourist passing through. 31 Eber, Chinese and Jews, 34–35. 22 Introduction leaders: Chief Rabbi Aharon Moshe Kisilov and Dr. Avraham Kaufman, a physician and director of a hospital for the indigent. The Jews established a commercial guild and a local trade exchange for currency and merchandise, mainly soybeans and furs. Among the well-known and wealthy residents were the three Skidelsky brothers (including David Solomon), Gregory Krol, and Issac Susskin. Religious, Cultural, and Social Institutions Several Ashkenazi synagogues functioned in Harbin. Their members also founded community organizations such as the burial society (hevra kadisha), Zionist Federation, Keren Kayemet Le-Israel (Jewish National Fund), Yevreyskaya Zhizn. and the local newspaper The city had a Jewish library, 32 and in 1920 an elementary school or Talmud Torah was established. This school taught Bible and Jewish philosophy as well as secular subjects including geography, mathematics, history, and Russian language. Charity organizations included a women’s organization (DEBO), a local branch of WIZO, the Ezra Charitable Society, a soup kitchen (which opened its doors to non-Jews as well—Russians and Chinese), an old age home and a cemetery (1903), a clinic called “Mishmeret Holim” (1920), a Jewish hospital (1938), and a special clinic for the disabled and chronically ill (1942). In the Harbin Jewish cemetery, 583 gravestones are still standing, with inscriptions in Russian and Yiddish. In 1958 the cemetery was moved outside the center of town. In 1992, after the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and China, it was refurbished at the request of the Association of Former Residents of China in Israel. Rabbi Aharon Shmulevitz Kisilov, who served as the community’s rabbi, is buried there, as is Yosef Olmert, grandfather of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. 33 32 Kaufman, Yehadut Harbin Asher Be-Libi, 31–34. 33 Lev-Ari, “Kehillat Harbin“ [The Harbin community] [Hebrew]. In terms of Zionist politics, this well-to-do community supported the Revisionist ideology. It produced several prominent members of Israeli society, such as Mordechai Olmert and Yosef Tekoa, Israel’s former ambassador to the UN. Several became fighters in the Irgun (Etzel). The grandfather of Israel’s former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert settled in Harbin, and Ehud’s parents, Bella and Mordechai, were born there. Mordechai was active in the Revisionist movement in the city. In contrast to most of the other Jewish youth, who attended Russian high schools, he attended a Chinese high school, and so he knew Chinese. Bella and Mordechai moved to Israel in 1930. Others who were born and grew up in Harbin include the parents of Member of Knesset Efraim “Effi” Eitam; the father of poet Dalia Ravikovitz; Prof. Haim Tadmor—father of David Tadmor, Introduction 23 Zionist youth movements also opened branches in Harbin, beginning with Ze’irei Zion and Hashomer Ha-Tza’ir in the early twentieth century, then Maccabi and Beitar in 1929. The latest also became the largest and most influential of the youth movements, and eventually remained the only one. At first, anti-Zionist movements were also present in Harbin, such as the Labor Bund and the Volkspartei, but over the years the overwhelming majority of Harbin Jews joined the Zionist groups, including Revisionists, General Zionists, and Mizrachi. The community maintained a strong connection with Mandate Palestine and imported merchandise including food and newspapers. Harbin Jews Following the Japanese Occupation In September 1931, the Kwantung Army, an expeditionary group of the Imperial Japanese Army, invaded Manchuria, and the situation of the Harbin Jewish community began to deteriorate. Many of its members abandoned the city and moved south to other Chinese cities that were not yet occupied, while others emigrated overseas. To serve their imperialist purposes, the Japanese developed industry and infrastructure in greater Manchuria, including Harbin. But they imposed a harsh military regime that was aggressive and cruel to the Chinese. By contrast, the Jewish and Russian minorities enjoyed considerate treatment. The Jews adapted to the new reality, and some even cooperated with the occupiers. Others were accused of maintaining contact with the Soviet Union and were sent to prison. In general, despite pressure from Nazi Germany on its Japanese ally to replicate the Nuremberg Laws and persecute the Jews in the areas under their control, the Japanese authorities avoided extreme actions. Instead of targeting the Jews in Harbin, the Japanese remained largely unaffected by antisemitism and instead professed great admiration toward Jews. Another reason for the Japanese attitude was that as the occupier, they considered all of the non-Chinese to be foreigners, members of the same community without distinction. former director general of the Israel Antitrust Authority; and Ya’akov Lanir, a member of the Irgun and later a senior official in the Israel Security Agency (Shabak). In June 2004 Olmert visited the city in his then role of deputy prime minister, and recited the Kaddish at his grandfather’s grave together with his brother Amram. Following his visit, the cemetery erected a special gravestone in his honor. 24 Introduction Meshual Meir Meshayoff, an Ashkenazi Jew who visited East Asia from 1934 to 1935 as a rabbinic envoy, reported that the Harbin Jewish comHa’Aretz was in miserable condition. In an article appearing in 34 on January 21, 1936, under the dramatic headline “The Destruction of Harbin,” Meshayoff wrote that the city was virtually empty of Jews, and that the situation of the synagogues and the Jewish school had deteriorated unrecognizably. Out of twenty thousand Jews living in the city before the Japanese invasion, only some six thousand remained. Meshayoff noted the Russian antisemitism that affected the city and documented the decline in the Jews’ situation during the five years of Japanese occupation. As a traditional Jew, the envoy from the Land of Israel expressed his opinion that modernization was the cause of the community’s troubles. In his view, the Jews of Harbin were satisfied with teaching their children a smidgen of Jewish tradition when they reached bar and bat mitzvah age. For this reason, he asserted, Jewish identity had evaporated, in a process similar to that taking place in the United States. He wrote: “Ever since the Japanese occupation, a trend has begun of banishing the Jews from the field of commerce…. A secret boycott against the Jewish merchants has sprung up here. Further, the occupation regime is trying to transfer industry to Japanese cities, and in this manner the Chinese are also disinherited.... The Jews suffer for this, as their livelihood came from the wider Chinese market.” The 35 sale of the railway by the Russians to Manchukuo, the puppet state created by Japan in Manchuria, and departure of thousands of Russians who had managed it also damaged Jewish life. In the field of real estate, the Japanese occupiers considered themselves exempt from rent payments, and this hurt Jews whose incomes were either directly or indirectly dependent on rent. “This is the situation of the Harbin Jews,” Meshayoff concluded, “in the political sense—despair and mortal danger.” 36 After Japan’s collapse and defeat in 1945, the Soviet Red Army ruled in Harbin and throughout Manchuria and lent its support to the establishment of the People’s Republic of China under the Communist Party. Undoubtedly, the Japanese invasion, the Soviet occupation, and the Chinese civil war that broke out in Manchuria from the end of World War II until the rise of the revolutionary regime in 1949 all led to the decline of Harbin and, eventually, the end of Jewish life there. The Chinese Jews emigrated Sefer Ha-Zichronot 34 Meshayoff, [Memoir] [Hebrew], n.d., private publication, 86–116. 35 Ibid., 107. 36 Ibid. Introduction 25 to other countries. Many went to Israel after its establishment in 1948. In 1963, the Jewish community organizations in Harbin officially closed, and some twenty years later, the last Jew living in Harbin died. The old synagogue was converted into an activity center for parents and children, and the Jewish high school now houses a school for Korean immigrant students. The commercial college that was founded by Avraham Kaufman became an institute for technological and scientific research, and the Jewish hospital now operates as a small ophthalmological clinic. The Baghdadi Sephardic Community in Shanghai The first Jews to reach Shanghai were citizens of the British Empire who originally came from Baghdad and went East after the Opium War. The war ended in 1842 with the Treaty of Nanjing, which the British imposed on the Chinese and which gave preferential rights to foreigners. In traveling to Shanghai, the Jews followed in the wake of British merchants, including opium traders. The Jews often served as intermediaries for international commerce, mainly between British-controlled India and China, as well as the countries adjoining it. At its height, the number of Jews in the Shanghai 37 community, which was called “She’erit Israel,” reached one thousand. The driving force behind the existence of the Shanghai community was the wide variety of business opportunities open to the Jewish entrepreneur following the Treaty of Nanjing. Like other coastal cities in China, Shanghai was open to everyone. British citizens and later citizens of other countries were permitted to trade freely with China and its vast lands. New concession neighborhoods were built adjoining Shanghai, and eventually some of these combined into an international quarter (this did not include the French Concession, which remained independent). These neighborhoods were designated for the foreigners, who enjoyed extraterritorial protection. Although they lived in China, the legal system and other institutions of daily life were European in every way. The autonomous French Concession was located next to the international quarter, and later, an autonomous Japanese quarter was also established. The Jews lived in the international 38 quarters. From the Rivers of Babylon to the Whangpoo, 37 Meyer, 11. 38 Meyer, “The Sephardi Jewish Community,” 349–350. 26 Introduction One of the prominent Jewish families in the city was the Sassoons. Elias Sassoon (1820–80) was apparently the first Jew to arrive in Shanghai. He was sent from Bombay by his father David (1792–1854) to manage the family business, David Sassoon & Sons. Elias was followed by his seven brothers, and by the late 1850s, some twenty Jews employed by the Sassoon family were living in Shanghai. Estimates place the Jewish population at 175 by 1895. At first, the family business was based on opium and textiles. Later, the range of business grew to include metals, dried fruit, tea, gold, cotton, and silk. Within a few years, the Sassoon family expanded its business to include all the cities on the Chinese coast: Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Hongkou, Yantai (formerly Zhifu), and Ningbo, to name only a few. In 1867, Elias Sassoon founded his own company, E.D. Sassoon & Co., which operated a branch in Bombay. Elias’s company mainly dealt in finance and real estate, rapidly becoming larger and more important than his father’s. Envoy Meshual Meir Meshayoff also visited Shanghai. In his memoirs, he mentions the Sassoon family’s property and influence in the Baghdad community. Another prominent figure from that period was Benjamin David Benjamin, who became one of the wealthiest individuals in Shanghai. Originally from Bombay, he went to work for Elias Sassoon’s company and extended his dealings to banking and the local stock market. Benjamin purchased large shares in the banking corporations of Hong Kong and Shanghai, but in the 1890s his businesses began to fail and he left only a limited imprint on the city. 39 Another Baghdadi Jew who had enormous influence on the Jewish community and on the entire city was Silas (Salah) Aaron Hardoon (1851– 1931), who began his career as an employee of David Sassoon in Bombay. He went to Shanghai as a low-level debt collector and rose in the ranks to become a partner and manager in Elias’s company. Hardoon had finely honed business instincts, and over time he accumulated massive capital, mainly from real estate deals. Slowly he became one of the wealthiest merchants in all of East Asia. His worth was then estimated at 150 million dollars. Hardoon also served on committees in the French Concession and gained political influence. As opposed to other Chinese Jews, he did not distance himself from Chinese religion and culture. On the contrary, he From the Rivers of Babylon to the Whangpoo, 39 Meyer, 16–17. Introduction 27 welcomed them, even taking on the practice of Buddhist customs. His 40 Euro-Asian wife, Luo Jialing, had a strong influence on his way of life, and she encouraged him to contribute generously to the Chinese community and heritage, in addition to assisting the Jewish community. In 1927, he contributed three hundred thousand dollars toward the construction of the Sephardic synagogue in Shanghai, Beit Aharon, and to other Jewish institutions, including schools and the Zionist movement Keren Ha-Yesod. Silas and his wife did not have their own children, but they adopted ten Chinese children. When Hardoon died in 1931, his wealth and property was divided among Jewish institutions and individuals, and Chinese and Buddhist ones. Institutions of the Baghdadi Jewish Community in Shanghai The Shanghai Jewish Communal Association (SJCA) was founded in 1909. Its main projects included managing the financial interests of the community, maintaining the Jewish cemetery, opening a new burial ground, and managing charity organizations. In addition, the organization supervised kosher slaughter and collected information about community members: births, marriages, divorces, and deaths. It also administered a school that taught Judaism, Hebrew, Jewish history and theology, and a few secular subjects. However, the wealthy patrons of the community preferred to send their children to the elite British schools, and the Jewish school gradually declined. 41 In 1933, Noel Jacobs led the community in establishing the Jewish section of the Shanghai volunteer military force (Shanghai Volunteer Corps— SVC). The SVC was established to protect the international quarter from rebels’ attacks and oppression from the Chinese military. The Shanghai Jewish Youth Association (SJYA) was founded in 1937 by Horace Kadoorie, another wealthy Jew. The purpose of this association was to provide professional training and leisure-time activities for the Jewish youth, particularly those from poor families. The Shanghai Zionist Association (SZA) was founded in 1903. Sir Eli Kadoorie served as its president and hosted in his home many representatives 40 For example, printing the Chinese Buddhist canon for worldwide distribution. From the Rivers of Babylon to the Whangpoo, 41 Meyer, 367. Regarding the activities of the Jewish National Fund in China during this period, see Frustig, “The Activity of the Jewish National Fund in China between WWI and WWII,” MA thesis. 28 Introduction who supported the Zionist dream. But Kadoorie later rescinded his support for the association after Keren Ha-Yesod rejected the idea of establishing a grandiose garden city in the Land of Israel as a memorial for his wife Leora. The SZA’s greatest achievement was obtaining a declaration from three countries—China, Japan, and Siam—that supported the Jews’ right to establish a national home in the Land of Israel. The Baghdadi Jews also encouraged introductory tours of the Land of Israel and imported merchandise from there to China. In 1898 two synagogues served the community: Beit El and She’erit Israel. A third synagogue, Ohel Rachel, was built in 1921 with the financial assistance of Sir Jacob Sassoon and his brother Sir Edward Sassoon. As mentioned, Silas Hardoon funded a fourth synagogue, Beit Aharon. Although the Baghdadi community was the smallest of the three Jewish communities in Shanghai, it was the strongest and most influential. Baghdadi community members were educated in the British imperialist tradition, while the Jews of Russian and European (Ashkenazi) background maintained their own ethos. While the Baghdadi community fiercely upheld its Sephardic-British identity (its members seldom intermarried with members of the Ashkenazi communities), it supported the other Jewish communities and cooperated with them in the social welfare and educational institutions that it had founded, despite the difference in character. Baghdadi Jews also developed connections with the remain42 Jews of Kaifeng. They hosted Kaifeng representatives in their homes, as they considered them authentic Sephardi Jews, and offered them assistance in the field of education and in reconstructing their synagogue. In doing so, they violated the decree prohibiting British subjects from having contact with the local Chinese. Although Meshayoff observed and recorded details of Jewish life in Shanghai, he bemoaned the “stamp of assimilation” on the Jews, as he considered them influenced by the Reform movement in London. He mourned the fact that many Jews married “White” Russians, who were renowned for their beauty. Although these brides converted, he called them “cash converts,” accusing them of remaining faithful to their original religion and having a negative influence on their children. In addition, “there are many Jewish girls who have reached marriageable age and due to competition with the beautiful Russian girls, they have no one to marry and so they 42 Ibid., 360. Introduction 29 marry the orange-skinned Chinese.” Regarding the White Russians, he 43 wrote that they pined for the halcyon days of czarist Russia, “as is the custom of Jewish men.” He commented that the Russian Jews kept “war flags from Old Russia” in their committee meeting room. These flags had escaped capture by the enemy and were kept “under permanent guard, until they can be returned to their former position and glory.” However, he also noted the Beitar nationalist spirit that prevailed among the Jews and the influence of the Land of Israel on this Jewish community. The Russian Jewish Community in Shanghai The first Russian Jew to reach Shanghai was apparently a man named Haimovitch, who settled there in 1878. Other Jews followed him, including representatives of the major tea corporation W. Wissotsky and Company. The small Russian–Jewish community formed in Shanghai following two waves of immigration from Russia in the early twentieth century. The first wave arrived in the early decades in the wake of the pogroms against the Jews and the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. The second wave arrived in the 1930s from Manchuria, when the political situation there became unstable and the economic position of the Jews declined. This community was known as Ohel Moshe, after the synagogue of that name. It was constructed in 1907 and named after community leader Moshe Greenberg. At its height, in the 1930s, the community numbered some six thousand members. As opposed to the wealthy Baghdadi community, the Russian Jews were of simple means. Most settled in the Hongkou neighborhood, while those of improved economic status went to live in the French Concession. 44 In 1925, Rabbi Meir became leader of the community. He was an Ashkenazi Jew, a Lubavitcher Chassid who earned the esteem of the Baghdadi community as well. Like their co-religionists in the Baghdadi community, in 1923 members of the Russian community also helped found the Jewish brigade of the international Shanghai Volunteer Corps. The Jewish brigade numbered 120 members. In 1941, when Ohel Moshe synagogue became too small to contain the entire community, a new, modern synagogue was constructed in the French Concession. Called the New Synagogue, it seated one thousand Memoirs, 43 Meshayoff, 108. Chinese and Jews, 44 Eber, 8. 30 Introduction congregants. The synagogue sponsored a rich cultural program, with activities held in Russian. The Russian Jewish community in Shanghai founded its own newspaper, called Our Life. Other newspapers published in the international and French concessions included the English monthly The Monitor (1931); Bnei Brith organization’s The Zionist Review (1932), also in English; the Revisionist movement journal The Jewish Voice (1935); and The Tagar (1946) of the Po’alei Zion movement. The community also established a Hebrew welfare society and a shelter that provided lodgings for some fifty needy Jews. They collected donations and supplied food, medical care, clothing, and other necessities. The Russian Jews preferred foreign schools, such as the French college or the private British school. 45 Other organizations included the Ezra charity fund that granted loans to business people, the burial society, a scholarship fund, a clinic, and a hospital established by Bnei Brith. Religious services were organized and provided by another local organization known as Jüdische Gemeind or Einheitsgemeinde (“Comprehensive Community Association”). After World War II, members of the Russian Jewish community began to leave Shanghai, mainly due to the tense situation during the civil war in China between the Nationalist army (Guomindang) and the rebel Communists. Most emigrated to the United States, Australia, South Africa, and Israel. The European Refugee Community in Shanghai The third strand in the Jewish fabric of Shanghai was the community of European refugees who reached the city at the end of the 1930s, searching for refuge from the antisemitic attacks of the Nazis and their supporters. They mainly came from Germany after the Kristallnacht pogroms in 1938 and from Austria after its annexation by Germany (the Anschluss). Most of these Jews were poor, and they settled in Hongkou, a suburb that also had many Japanese inhabitants. The refugee community was the largest of the Jewish groups and at its peak numbered around twenty thousand members. While the other two communities considered Shanghai their permanent residence, for the recently arrived refugees it was a temporary stopover, 45 Krasno, “History of Russian Jews in Shanghai,” 335–336. Introduction 31 a haven on a rainy day. Some referred to it as a Wartesaal, or waiting room, and in tough times, a mousetrap. They dreamed of eventually reaching the United States. 46 Still, the temporary shelter that this community enjoyed in Shanghai was miraculous to them. Indeed, in those harrowing days for European Jewry, Shanghai may have been difficult to reach, but it was the only location that permitted entry to Jewish refugees without visas. The Chinese authorities were under pressure, as parts of northern China, including Shanghai, were under Japanese occupation beginning in the summer of 1937 and were not under the authority of any recognized sovereignty. Even so, the Chinese proved to be enlightened hosts. Even more importantly, the economically flourishing section of Shanghai was very much an international city and thus remained free of harsh regulations on many issues, including immigration. In fact, as opposed to the ethos that developed after the opening of diplomatic relations between Israel and China in 1992, it was the Japanese rather than the Chinese authorities who de facto permitted the entry of Jews into China. 47 Beginning in August 1939, the Japanese limited Jewish immigration to Shanghai, although they did not stop it altogether. They did so under pressure from the other Axis powers, but also from the Jewish community in the city, which feared the strained economic situation that had developed there. Ironically, while powerful, “enlightened” nations such as Britain and the United States locked their gates and their hearts against Jewish refugees, it was this far-flung, foreign city that granted a safe haven to this persecuted people, and all while under the control of a nation aligned with Nazi Germany. In December 1938, a committee that convened in Tokyo decided to permit the entry of Jews to Shanghai. The first Jews who arrived were 48 members of the Steiner family from Austria, who had reached the city in August 1938. Most of the German Jews who came to Shanghai arrived after Kristallnacht, in November of that year. Several hundred more came from Poland and Czechoslovakia. Recently unearthed documents in Chinese state archives reveal that in 1939, the Chinese proposed a national plan to take in large numbers of European Jews, believing this was a morally imperative act. The idea was to settle persecuted European Jews in the southwestern Yunnan province, close to the Burmese border. When the initiative Chinese and Jews, From Berlin to Shanghai, 46 Eber, 30; Sigmund and Hirschberg, 37, 39. From Berlin to Shanghai, 47 “Introduction, by Guy Meron.” In Sigmund and Hirschberg, 18. 48 Kranzler, “Jewish Refugee Community,” 402–3. 32 Introduction was drafted, the Chinese government was in the midst of a humiliating withdrawal inland, retreating from the Japanese forces charging west. The plan was never implemented, but it reflects the Chinese establishment’s sympathy for the Jews and its willingness to help them in their time of need. Broader, more pragmatic considerations also stood behind this initiative. Despite the differences in character, the established communities in the city, particularly the Baghdadis, assisted the European refugees and eased the hardships of absorption and integration. Naturally, this process was not easy for the newcomers. They suffered from language barriers and had to adapt to the climate and the tropical diseases that affected the area. In addition, the refugees faced economic barriers, and only a few succeeded in running businesses and achieved a decent standard of living. Some tried 49 their hand at importing products from Europe or established small businesses such as cafes, restaurants, and stores in the German and Austrian style. They created a “Little Vienna“ in the heart of the Chinese city. Some refugees were involved in building new structures, and the Bauhaus style was visible in some areas. Newspaper businesses were successful, and a broad Jewish-German communications network developed, including German-language radio broadcasts. Alongside work, community members developed their own cultural life. They founded libraries and sponsored shows and concerts. The local theater produced a number of dramas. 50 Decline of the Shanghai Communities Until war broke out in the Pacific theater after the Japanese attacked the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, the situation of the Jewish communities in Shanghai was relatively stable. The new situation created in Shanghai in those days was an example of Jewish solidarity. The older communities in the city and its environs collected money for aid. The American Jewish community; the international American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee; the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS); Jewish Colonization Association (ICA, later merged with HIAS to form HICEM); Jewish Labor Committee; and Vaad Ha-Haztalah organization all stepped up to help. This was the only way to provide the necessary assista nverted to life imprisonment. After four years in prison, the Chinese authorities announced that if the Israeli officials would permit him entry, 34 Introduction they would release him. The Israelis complied, and the man was allowed to immigrate. 52 Years later, Israel officially recognized the historical significance of Shanghai for the Jews during the Second World War. During celebrations for the sixtieth anniversary of Israel’s independence, the Israeli consulate in Shanghai invested a significant sum in initiatives designed to express the gratitude of the state and the entire Jewish world to the long-time inhabitants of the Hongkou quarter, who had received and hosted the Jewish refugees in their neighborhood during the 1930s and 1940s. In June 2007 and 53 January 2008, the Israelis remodeled an old age home and senior citizens’ activity center in the former ghetto neighborhood, providing air conditioning and heating units, sports facilities, musical instruments, and libraries. The jewel in the crown of this initiative was the establishment of a computerized database with information on twenty thousand Jews who found shelter in Shanghai during the war, as well as details of the older Jewish communities in the city. 54 The Israeli consulate also helped the authorities establish the Jewish Refugee Museum inside Ohel Moshe synagogue, which was refurbished in 2007. It also commemorated the status of Righteous Among the Nations granted to He Fengshan, who served as China’s consul-general in Vienna from 1938 to 1940. This diplomat issued entry permits to Shanghai for Jews fleeing Vienna, endangering himself and his family in order to save hundreds, perhaps thousands of Jews from the Nazis’ clutches. In March 2002 a ceremony in his memory was held for the first time on Chinese ground, led by his daughter, Manli He. 55 The Hong Kong Community During the second half of the nineteenth century, Hong Kong grew into an important commercial city of the British Empire. As they had 52 Joshua N. Shai’s files, “List of Special Cases,” Immigration and Citizenship Services (n.d., ca. 1954). 53 Uri Guttman, Israel’s Consul General in Shanghai, in a letter to Avner Shalev, chairman of Yad Vashem, March 4, 2008. 54 “Unique database commemorating the Jews of Shanghai arouses a wave of global reactions,” data from a source in the Israeli consulate of Shanghai, June 2008. 55 Goldstein, “China Honors Its Holocaust Rescuer”; “He Fengshan,” Yad Vashem website: http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/he/righteous/stories/ho.asp?WT.mc_id=wiki, retrieved My Forty Years as a Diplomat. in September 2013; Feng-Shan Ho, Introduction 35 Shanghai, Baghdadi Jewish traders reached Hong Kong as well, and the two communities maintained a close connection. Later, Ashkenazi Jews also came to the British colony, and estimates at the beginning of World War II place the number at seventy-five families. The Ohel Leah synagogue that served the community members was founded in 1902 with a donation from Sir Jacob Sassoon. A community social center was built seven years later, funded by Sir Elie Kadoorie. Today, with Hong Kong once again under Chinese rule as an autonomous administrative unit, some five thousand Jews live there, including Israelis. Most are merchants and businessmen. The Hong Kong Jewish community center holds a wide variety of social activities, and the city also has kosher restaurants, a Jewish school, and other community services. Other Jewish Communities in China In addition to the Jewish communities in Kaifeng, Harbin, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, a number of communities existed elsewhere in China, most of Russian origin. During the Japanese occupation, these Jews often suffered harassment and persecution; they were even suspected of spying for the Soviet Union. One such community was in Inner Mongolia. The first Jews went there as soldiers in the czar’s army in the late nineteenth century. Most lived in Hailar and Manchuli, and they maintained close ties with the Harbin community. Synagogues were established in these two cities just before the First World War. Schools and other community organizations were also founded. Estimates place the number of Jews in these cities at 130 on the eve of World War II. Some Jews lived in Hulun Buir, but they left after the Japanese occupation. In Liaoning Province, Jews lived in the cities of Dalian and Mukden (today Shenyang). There as well, as in Inner Mongolia, the pioneers of the community were Russian-Jewish soldiers, and they were followed by merchants. At its height, the Dalian community numbered 180 residents, with a smaller community in Mukden. Tianjin, near Beijing, hosted a relatively large Jewish community that numbered some thirty-five hundred members at its apex in the 1930s. Russian Jews came to this city as early as the 1860s and 1870s. Most were merchants, and after them, Jewish soldiers from the czar’s army arrived. The community was officially founded in 1904. After the October Revolution, the number of Jews expanded. In 1925 the community founded a Jewish school, and in 1937 a publishing company that printed a newspaper in 36 Introduction Russian and English. Most of the Jews in the city enjoyed a high standard of living. Jews of German origin settled in Qingdao on the coast of the Yellow Sea. They reached this city in the late nineteenth century when the Germans took control of this part of China. Most were merchants and bankers. A second wave of Jews came to Qingdao from Russia after the Revolution. A synagogue was built, and in 1920 a Jewish organization was established to support the economic, cultural, and religious life of the community. Before World War II, about two hundred Jews lived there. As opposed to what we might expect, the number of Jews in Beijing was small, and no organized Jewish community existed. No synagogue was ever built there. We do know of several Jewish intellectuals who taught in the city’s universities in the early twentieth century, including Rudolph Leventhal (1904–96), who studied the Jews of Kaifeng. In 1938, some 120 Jews lived in Beijing. 56 Today China is host to a community of Israelis who went to China and continue to travel there for long periods for work, business, or studies. The largest Israeli community is in Shanghai, although some Israelis live in other cities. Jews from the United States and other countries have also made their permanent homes in China. Thus the winding path of history has led to a new situation of Jewish communities of mixed origin that are fundamentally different from those of the past. In their own way, they preserve a tradition of prayer, mainly on the holidays. They also enjoy the assistance and support of Chabad houses, which are scattered widely throughout the country. History of the Jews, 56 Fang, 270–275. Chapter One 1948 to 1955—The Early Years of Trial and Error This chapter covers the first seven years of China–Israel relations and describes the attempts made to establish connections between Israel, which became an independent state in May 1948, and China, which underwent revolution and transformation in October 1949. Between these two dates, Israel pursued relations with Nationalist China under the control of Chiang Kai-shek and his Nationalist Party, the Guomindang. This state rapidly initiated contact with Jerusalem. However, this relationship lasted only slightly over a year, as in 1949, China was taken over by the new Communist regime under the leadership of Mao Zedong, and the mating dance between the two countries began again. Almost half a century would pass before a positive result finally crystallized in January 1992 when diplomatic ties between Jerusalem and Beijing were initiated. This chapter focuses on analysis of “the missed opportunity”—referring to the failure to institutionalize Israel–China relations in the early 1950s. Before addressing this issue, we must examine several major historical processes, if only in outline form. These include the late nineteenth-century transition of the Jewish and Chinese nationalist movements from the proto-nationalist stage to full-fledged modern nationalism and the role of the two world wars and the inter-war period in consolidating these movements and defining their character. The Jewish and Chinese peoples are among the oldest communities in the world. Both have survived to this day, donned modern garb, and overcome inestimable challenges. The national movements engendered by these two peoples have sprouted into the shoots of new nations. We obse lism that led to the murder of millions, and not on the massacre itself or the identity of those killed. Holocaust Education in China. 59 Xu Xin, 42 China and Israel ballot in this historic vote. In the final analysis, China’s abstention aided in creating the majority necessary for authorizing the establishment of two states in the British Mandate of Palestine (two-thirds). Despite the abstaining vote, the media in Nationalist China joyfully welcomed Israel, the new state of the Jewish people returning to their homeland. 60 As noted, the vast majority of the Jews who were living in the various communities throughout China emigrated between 1948 and 1949, to Israel and elsewhere. The several hundred Jews who remained in China were involved in local and international commerce. After 1950 the new government prevented emigration from China, especially for individuals with international business ties. In 1956 David Marshall, an Iraqi Jew who 61 attained prominence as Singapore’s first Chief Minister, visited China for two months as the guest of Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai. He took this opportunity to push the request of some four hundred Russian Jews to leave China. Mutual Recognition and Establishment of Diplomatic Relations In late February 1949, Nationalist China’s UN representative contacted Abba Eban, Israel’s ambassador to the United States. China indicated that it would be willing to grant official recognition to Israel after the fledgling state gained admission to the UN. Israel was duly accepted to the UN as its fifty-ninth member on May 11 of that year. Nationalist China, however, did not last much longer. On October 1, 1949, Beijing declared the establishment of the People’s Republic of China under the leadership of Mao Zedong and the Communist Party. One hundred days later, on January 9, 1950, Israel took a surprising and daring step: it decided to recognize the new regime in China, thus becoming the first state in the Middle East and the seventh in the Western bloc to do so. The decision to send the telegram recognizing China was made following extensive discussions among officials in Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, despite their fear of a furious reaction on the part of the Americans. Ya’akov Shimoni, director-general of the Asian department at the Israel Foreign Ministry from 1949 to 1952, proposed a consultation with Washington before taking this step. But Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett decided not to do so—and moreover, he did not China and Israel. 60 Pan, The Fate of British and French Firms in China. 61 Shai, • 1948 to 1955—The Early Years of Trial and Error    CHAPTER ONE 43 even inform Abba Eban. Finally, Israel sent the message of recognition to 62 Zhou Enlai in Moscow, where the Chinese premier was visiting along with Mao Zedong. It was indeed unusual for Israel to act against the American position at the height of the Cold War, when even the Arab nations avoided such a step. At that point, Israel’s relations with Nationalist China (Taiwan) were limited to low-level, informal contact of a cultural and commercial character alone. After its establishment and for the next two years, the State of Israel adopted a policy of non-identification. The reason for this was that in the post-World War II period, many Jews were still scattered throughout the globe, mainly in population centers in the two main blocs, the United States and the Soviet Union. Diplomatic policy and public opinion in Israel dictated that the state must remain politically neutral, as only in this manner could it create extensive connections on both sides of the international political barrier and overcome political isolation in the international arena due to the Israeli–Arab conflict. Here we must recall that the non-identification policy was also important for local appeasement, as the parties that arose in Israel represented a broad political spectrum: from a clear pro-Western stance to almost total identification with the Soviet bloc. Still, it was clear that the balance of powers would not remain this 63 way forever. “The one hundred million dollars we received from the Export Bank in 1949 at Truman’s orders saved the Jewish community in Israel,” related Ze’ev Sufott, Israel’s first ambassador to Beijing. “The money had been in British hands. We were completely dependent on the West, but at that stage the Americans did not intervene and did not say a word.” 64 Documents from the Chinese archives reveal that during that period, China was keeping close tabs on processes in other countries as they began to recognize its new regime. A document from January 1950 sent by the Beijing Foreign Ministry to the Chinese Embassy in the Soviet Union poses the question: has the Israeli government sent a formal letter documenting its recognition of the popular regime in Beijing? The letter went on to ask the embassy to confirm as soon as such recognition arrived. During those 65 months, Mao and the central figures of the Chinese leadership were visiting 62 Interview with Dr. Ze’ev Sufott, September 6, 2004, Jerusalem. All interviews cited were conducted by this author, unless otherwise noted. 63 Shai, “The Israeli Communist Party and the PRC,” 84. 64 Interview with Ze’ev Sufott. 65 Archives of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, January 29, 1950. 44 China and Israel Moscow. Mao had gone there to visit Stalin and receive his instructions for the next steps, which is why most of the diplomatic correspondence was channeled through Moscow. Accordingly, on January 9, 1950, the State of Israel declared its formal recognition of the People’s Republic of China in a telegram sent by Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett to Premier Zhou Enlai. Of course, this meant that Israel recognized the Communist government in Beijing as the only legitimate government, and that from then on it ceased to recognize Chiang Kai-shek’s exiled government in Taiwan. The Chinese documents reveal that immediately following the declaration of a new regime in China, the two capitals began to correspond on the topic of recognition. On January 66 16, 1950, one week after Israel sent the telegram, Zhou Enlai reacted to the announcement with a formal declaration in accordance with the diplomatic protocol then in practice. A careful examination of the drafts written for Zhou’s telegram shows that corrections were made to the original. For example, several warm words were added, and one of the Chinese expressions was changed, since it might have been interpreted as addressing an individual low down in the diplomatic hierarchy. Another addition was personal—several expressions responding in a friendly tone to the heartfelt congratulations Moshe Sharett had sent to the country and to Zhou himself. However, Zhou did not relate to China’s intentions or political stance 67 and basically left the Israeli initiative one-sided. Formally, the regime in Beijing had no reason to grant recognition to the government in Jerusalem, as the State of Israel was already an established and recognized fact in the eyes of the international community and China itself (under the previous regime). We therefore have reason to question whether Israel should have expected any reward for its recognition of China. Later that month, the Chinese Foreign Ministry forwarded to Moscow other telegrams relating to the establishment of ties with various states and governments, with an emphasis on diplomatic recognition. These countries included Denmark, Afghanistan, Finland, Sweden, Vietnam, and Switzerland. In these telegrams, the ministry requested instructions on this issue from Mao himself. 68 66 Archives of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, file 2391/32, in Yemima Rosenthal, ed., Documents on the Foreign Policy of the State of Israel, 1949–1951 (Jerusalem: Nationa PRC,” 84. 70 Archives of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, May 31, 1950; June 27, 1950. Israel, the Korean War and China, 71 Brecher, 31. 46 China and Israel point, Israel attached itself to the United States bloc. Israel found itself in the thick of the global conflict—the Cold War in Asia. Israel Recognizes the People’s Republic of China What considerations prompted the Israeli government to form ties with the new China? Just before January 1950, when the State of Israel had decided to recognize the People’s Republic, China was boycotted by most nations of the world, first and foremost the United States. The Israel of that time was very different in character from the Israel of the twenty-first century. It was characterized by a unique, moderate form of socialism and a balanced policy of non-identification. The principle that guided it during that period was the attempt to obtain support from world powers and other states in the advancement of its own interests. 72 When the State of Israel was established, great hopes blossomed that the majority of Jews around the world would abandon the Diaspora and immigrate to the Altneuland, the “Old New Land,” as Herzl called it. Members of the Jewish communities of China, including refugees from White Russia, central Europe, and other regions, were also looking forward to exchanging their temporary shelter for a permanent home. To many, the Land of Israel, where the new Jewish state was founded, was an attractive alternative. But Western developed countries also called out to the Jews in China—the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and others. From the official Israeli standpoint, the number one priority was to obtain the goodwill of the Chinese authorities: at first Nationalist, and later Communist. Israel’s government assumed that this was the only way to ensure that the Chinese would permit the Jews to leave China and immigrate to Israel. While the State of Israel aspired to achieve cooperation with states in both the Eastern and Western blocs, official documents reveal that the establishments in Great Britain, the United States and other Western countries were suspicious of the new society that was developing in Israel and its hegemonic ethos. This society supported not only equal rights, but also socialist and social-democratic ideologies. This suspicion was made possible in the atmosphere of the Cold War and stemmed from a liberal ethos that feared leftist economics. Further, the Arab regimes were clearly 72 Bialer, “Ben Gurion and the Question of Israel’s International Orientation, 1948–1956.” • 1948 to 1955—The Early Years of Trial and Error    CHAPTER ONE 47 anti-communist, and thus the Western states might consider them more reliable and worthy assets. 73 From Jerusalem’s viewpoint, Israeli recognition of the new government in Beijing was considered natural and appropriate, and it earned the approbation of Eastern bloc countries. But from a Western perspective, it was a defiant gesture. Although Britain was also one of the first countries to recognize China, this step could be accepted with understanding and tolerance, since it was motivated by economic considerations. High-capital British concerns operating in China anticipated enormous profits or, at the very least, to maintain the value of their decades-old investments. These companies faced the imminent danger of extinction, and if London ignored or provoked the new regime, these interests might be immediately harmed. At least the British had no ideological basis for backing socialism. When David Ben Gurion was asked about Israel’s motivations for recognizing the People’s Republic so early, he emphasized that the Communists had seized control and held it, and that the nations of the world had to recognize this fact. He also stressed the legitimate right of the new China to be accepted as a legitimate member of the international community and to be treated accordingly. 74 When the Korean War broke out, however, Israel took the first significant step of distancing itself from the non-identification policy it had previously adopted. When the State of Israel decided to assist the UN forces in stopping North Korean hostility, this precipitated a turning point in the budding relationship between Jerusalem and Beijing. The war shuffled the deck and relegated to the sidelines the issue of ties between the two nations in their new formats. From then on, this issue became part of a broader, global arena. Yet despite its decision to end non-identification, Israel continued its previous policy toward China. For example, on September 19, 1950, the Israeli representation at the UN General Assembly voted to grant China’s seat to the People’s Republic and remove it from Nationalist China in Taiwan. In this process, Israel de facto joined the bloc of fifteen nations that acted to grant full legitimacy to the Communist regime. Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett explicitly declared that although Israel’s concept of democracy was far from Bei io station in 1975, including Prof. Shlomo Avineri (Foreign Ministry director in 1976–1977) and Dr. Meron Medzini; individuals who influenced the • 1948 to 1955—The Early Years of Trial and Error    CHAPTER ONE 49 closed state that was not understood and even lagging behind, but to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, it offered the possibility of a positive connection with other Asian countries, and this prompted the government to act in a creative and even groundbreaking manner. Thus in contrast to the Eurocentric approach that characterized Israel’s statesmen throughout most of its history, during this period a pluralistic conception reigned, which placed Asia and its future importance in an appropriate position. At that time, David Hacohen, who had resigned from his positions in the Histadrut (Labor Federation) and the Knesset, expressed interest in appointment as the first Israeli envoy to Burma. He explained that his appointment would enable implementation of ties with the new states in Asia that had yet to initiate contact with Israel, and in most cases, did not recognize it at all. Hacohen said that although he could have chosen a more attractive diplomatic position in a more comfortable location such as Rome or Paris, he viewed distant Burma as a potential bridge to the other Asian states. At that time, Burma was slightly more open than the other Asian countries and had socialist tendencies. Hacohen’s approach reflected a refreshing Israeli view, which aimed at partnership not only with the West against the background of expectations of economic achievements, but also with the East, based on its potential and familiar ideology. Before formally appointing Hacohen in December 1953, Moshe Sharett paid a visit to Burma, followed by Hacohen himself. Their hosts expressed an honest interest in establishing diplomatic ties with Jerusalem, and their expectation of a mutual relationship. Hacohen defined this in his unique way: “They wanted a real ambassador, not just someone to drink whiskey with.” He argued that relations with Burma strengthened his awareness and 79 thirst for similar ties with China. Following in Hacohen’s footsteps, other foreign ministry bureaucrats visited Burma, including Walter Eitan, director general; and Daniel Levin, head of the Asian department, who opened the road to China toward the end of the Korean War. Levin asked the Israeli ambassadors in several European capitals—Stockholm, Prague, Warsaw, Bucharest, and Sofia—to put out feelers with their Chinese counterparts regarding their countries’ stance toward Israel. The Chinese ambassadors decision-making process during that period, such as Abba Eban (Israeli ambassador to the US), David Hacohen (Israeli envoy in Burma), Ya’akov Shimoni (director of Asian affairs at the Foreign Ministry), and members of the Israeli delegation to China—Meir De-Shalit and Yosef Zarchin. 79 “The China Connection,” Hacohen. 50 China and Israel replied unanimously that their government was definitely ready to discuss establishment of formal ties with Israel, but they left the diplomatic ball in the Israeli court. Initial Ties On December 31, 1953, the Chinese ambassador to Burma, Yao Zhongming, sent a telegram under the heading, “Israel interested in establishing commercial relations with us,” in which he reported on his talks with Hacohen. He related that Hacohen was interested in forming commercial ties with China, either directly or indirectly, through Burma. The principal Israeli commodity under discussion was fertilizer, but Yao reported that Hacohen also offered to supply other products. China’s formal response came two weeks later and was decidedly enthusiastic. The two sides thus expressed interest in bilateral trade. Hacohen supplied a list of products that Israel could export, including fruits and vegetables, both fresh and preserved; textiles; electronics; medicines and vaccines; cosmetics; fertilizer and phosphates; cement; glass; agricultural technology; and even vehicles. Hacohen was active in Koor, a Histadrut company, and he was well aware of the Israeli market’s potential and its products. He also proposed the idea of sending a commercial delegation to China. For their part, the Chinese emphasized their enthusiasm for his initiative, and Ambassador Yao was asked by his superiors to probe this issue further. 80 In another document, Yao noted that Israel was a small country and that establishing friendly ties with it would be significant for both sides. He reported that Israel was about to establish relations with Thailand and Japan, and that it hoped to host representatives from China. He also stated that the United States, due to its official anti-China position, had recommended to the Israeli government that it refrain from sending a commercial delegation to China. According to Yao’s version of events, the Israeli prime minister insisted that this was an internal Israeli matter and that it was inappropriate for Washington to become involved. As for the commercial issue, Yao emphasized that although Israel was a small country, it had advanced industry and professional engineers. Hacohen explained that Israel would possible. On September 23, Zhou Enlai, then the prime 83 “The China Connection,” Mezdini. 84 Ibid., Shimoni. 85 “The China Connection,” Mezdini. • 1948 to 1955—The Early Years of Trial and Error    CHAPTER ONE 53 minister of China, informed the first convocation of the People’s Congress that contacts between Beijing and Jerusalem were taking place. His declaration came as a surprise, as he did so without informing Israel in advance. 86 US Secretary of Defense John Foster Dulles, a rabid anti-communist, protested angrily against this development and pressured Israel to cancel all diplomatic initiatives for strengthening ties with China. This pressure was designed to send a clear message to Beijing that Israel was dependent on the United States. Around April 1955, the embryonic relations between 87 the two countries cooled, and subsequently China ceased making positive suggestions on the issue of Israel. Parallel to negotiations with Beijing, Jerusalem held talks that strengthened ties with three other countries: Burma, Russia, and India. The connections formed between these three countries and Israel contributed to advancing Israel’s relationship with China, although they were not sufficient to establish formal connections. Burma, Russia, and India Help Initiate Contact The Asian section of the Israel Foreign Ministry was created in 1949. Ya’akov Shimoni, who served as director until 1952, documented the Ministry’s Asian orientation during those years and the increasing interest in the region. 88 In late 1953, following the Korean War, Israel opened a representation in Rangoon. As mentioned, this enabled ties between the Chinese ambassador and his Israeli counterpart, David Hacohen. The Israeli representative believed that his presence in Rangoon would help in normalizing Israel’s relations with Asian countries and advancing trade with China in particular. Hacohen placed great importance on the commercial and economic 89 connection with China, as well as on disseminating information to the Asian peoples on issues of Judaism, the Arab–Israeli conflict, and Israel’s place in the global arena. The connection between Chinese ambassador Yao and Hacohen was based on Beijing’s directive to avoid initiating contact and only react to Israeli overtures. At the same time, Yao was instructed 86 Ibid., Shimoni. Between East and West. 87 For more on Israel’s position between the two blocs, see Bialer, 88 “The China Connection,” Shimoni. Burma Diary. 89 Hacohen, 54 China and Israel to continue to put out tentative but polite feelers toward his Egyptian colleague in Rangoon. 90 When Zhou Enlai arrived in Rangoon for a visit, Zhou invited Hacohen to meet with him. At the reception that the Chinese held in Hacohen’s honor, he was the only Western representative. After the reception, Zhou called him in for a personal conversation. According to Hacohen, at this meeting Zhou expressed satisfaction regarding the developing ties between the two countries and invited Hacohen to visit China as its official guest. Although the topic of formal relations between the countries was not raised, Hacohen read between the lines of Beijing’s escalating interest in such ties. Throughout this process, Hacohen demonstrated sincere enthu91 regarding the establishment of relations with China. Despite the obstacles, he continued to believe in the sincere will of the Chinese to create ties with Israel. His excitement infected his colleagues in the Foreign Ministry, the Knesset, and even in the Histadrut. His hopes were realized 92 when an Israeli delegation finally visited China in late January 1955. Ya’akov Shimoni replaced Hacohen in Burma, presenting a picture that was less glowing and optimistic than Hacohen’s. He noted that as part of his position, he had to fulfill the promises that Hacohen had made out of “his enthusiasm and personal charm,” but that not all of these had official backing. Some of the promises were far-reaching but had negative consequences on future developments. At any rate, Burma served as a central 93 axis in diplomatic communications on the issue of Israel–China relations. The intense exchange of telegrams between Yao and the Beijing Foreign Ministry during December 1953 indicated the relative frequency of the meetings and discussions held between himself and Hacohen. Yao repeatedly emphasized to his government that Hacohen was interested in trade issues between the two countries, whether through Burma or directly. Inspired by the discussions on commercial contact, the political feelers 94 also grew in significance. Hacohen anticipated that discussions in the diplomatic field would be based on agreements on the commercial issue. 90 Archives of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, telegram of December 8, 1953 sent by Yao to his government. 91 “The China Connection,” Hacohen. 92 Shai, “Strange hat Israel had only a limited quantity of merchandise to 97 Archives of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, March 25, 1954; August 29, 1954. 58 China and Israel export to China and raised doubt regarding the logic of the planned visit. Still, the telegram did express agreement regarding the delegation’s visit and even regarding contact between the countries, on certain conditions. It also indicated the quantity of sulfates that Israel could export to China. 98 After the two countries finally decided that the visit would take place, Hacohen pressed to set a date. He noted that Moshe Sharett hoped that a reciprocal visit of a Chinese delegation in Israel would also take place: “Because trade missions are the first step in building relations in other areas, we do not want China to be isolated from the rest of the world, and we hope that China can create ties with all countries,” he wrote. During the Israeli delegation’s visit, the members presented a formal invitation for a visit by a Chinese trade mission to Israel with the goal of signing a commercial treaty. 99 Yao interpreted Hacohen’s eagerness to push the process as a reaction to the delay in the Chinese response to setting a date for the Israeli delegation’s visit. Hacohen apparently thought that China’s foot-dragging was connected to the Israel delegation’s exceptional vote against China’s bid for membership, cast at the Ninth General Assembly of the United Nations in 1954. According to Yao, Hacohen suspected that China might change its policy toward Israel and the delegation’s visit. According to this version of events, Sharett and Hacohen emphasized China’s isolation in the world with the intention of encouraging it to give a positive reply regarding the Israeli visit. As for a reciprocal visit by a Chinese delegation, the Chinese Foreign Ministry suggested that Ambassador Yao express the Chinese prime minister’s hope that after the visit of the Israeli delegation, China would send its own delegation to Israel. In December, the Chinese Foreign Ministry sent instructions to the Burmese embassy that the Israeli delegation was expected “to exchange opinions and ideas with the Chinese side regarding the possibilities for trade between the countries. It will not discuss specific commercial issues and will not sign trade agreements.” At the end of the 100 month, the agenda for the visit was decided. Again Beijing showed interest in the composition of the delegation and its members. Chinese officials also expressed amazement at the wide variety of languages that the Israelis spoke, at their efforts to learn about China before joining the mission, 98 Ibid., October–December 1954. 99 Ibid., December 8, 1954; “The China Connection,” Zarchin. 100 Ibid., December 8, 1954; December 24, 1954; December 31, 1954. • 1948 to 1955—The Early Years of Trial and Error    CHAPTER ONE 59 and at their backgrounds and experience in diplomacy and international relations. The Chinese proposed that the delegation travel to Hong Kong and enter China through Shenzhen. Accordingly, on January 26, 1955, the six members of the Israeli delegation finally stepped on Chinese soil and arrived in Guangzhou. 101 Excitement was high on the Israeli side. Abba Eban was usually described as having warned Israel against excessive overtures to China, for fear of the American reaction. But two decades after the visit, in a radio program entitled “The China Connection,” he asserted that he had supported the initiative and even tried to give the delegation a political mission as well. Indeed, in early January 1955, two weeks before the visit, he sent the following in a telegram to Israel’s Foreign Ministry: “Relations with China are likely to strengthen Israel’s international status, and therefore must not be postponed. I believe that the United States will accept the act and perhaps even benefit from it. Israel has the ability to soften the negative American reaction. I do not think that the Americans will be preoccupied with this now, despite their objection. We must rely on the Netherlands’ attempt. I was told by the Dutch that establishing relations [with China] did not harm Dutch–US relations in the long-term. Considering this precedent, I regret that we are going there only to clarify the commercial relationship and not the diplomatic one as well.” Ze’ev Sufott described Eban’s statement as 102 part of the transformation he underwent, his “change of skin” that began in the fall of 1954. 103 On the Chinese side, instructions were given to schedule the first three weeks of the visit for tours of China’s regions and one week for trade negotiations. An itinerary and directives were sent to districts and branches by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the Office of Foreign Trade, and the Central Government Committee for Directing International Activities. The instructions covered the sleeping arrangements for the delegation and their transportation between cities and sites. Directives were given regarding the tax exemption granted to the guests, the mode of escort, and organization of the reception and departure ceremonies in each city. The ceremonies were planned to be warm but not wasteful. 104 101 See, for example, ibid., January rchives of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, February 26, 1955. 108 Archives of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, January 26, 1955. • 1948 to 1955—The Early Years of Trial and Error    CHAPTER ONE 61 general discussions had been held on the establishment of diplomatic and commercial relations between China and Israel. Such discussions did take place between Hacohen and Levin on the Israeli side, and on the Chinese side, Deputy Foreign Minister Zhang Hanfu and the foreign minister’s assistant, Chen Jiakang. Chen also held an additional meeting with Levin, who asked to know where China stood on relations with Israel and whether the Israelis could expect the opening of embassies in both countries within a defined time limit. Chen’s response was vague. He avoided Levin’s direct questions and merely repeated the mantra of a “two-stage plan” of trade first and diplomacy later, meaning that the Chinese would begin with informal contact. In other words, China would make decisions on weighty formal issues only after the Afro-Asian conference in Bandung. Only then would China be able to discuss a reciprocal visit of a Chinese mission to Israel, establishment of formal diplomatic ties, and other significant matters. 109 The Chinese Foreign Ministry reported that the Israeli delegation members were satisfied with their visit. But there was at least one mem110 who was not. Meir De-Shalit of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, who had served as mission secretary, expressed doubt as to the future of relations between the two countries. He stated his hope that one day the Chinese would show their cards and decide the argument he was waging with David Hacohen. Indeed, delegation members were divided in their opinions on the success of their mission: in opposition to De-Shalit’s view, David Hacohen took an optimistic stance. De-Shalit could not ignore the minor incidents that took place during the visit and which he thought indicated a lack of appropriate seriousness on the part of the Chinese regarding establishing diplomatic ties with Israel. For example, delegation members were interested in meeting with ministers in the Chinese government but were not granted this privilege, although David Hacohen had met with Prime Minister Zhou Enlai in Burma at the latter’s invitation. Further, De-Shalit related that delegation members had brought a translation of Mao’s writings into Hebrew as a gift. They had hoped to deliver it to Zhou personally, shake his hand, and take a photo with him, as per accepted protocol. But the Chinese did not permit this, asserting that the prime minister was busy and that his assistants would deliver the books to him later. De-Shalit 109 Ibid., February 26, 1955. 110 Ibid. 62 China and Israel related that when the topic of exchanging envoys between countries arose during their visit to Shanghai, the Chinese escorts showed no reaction at all and instead merely stared at the Israelis in astonishment. 111 In the final analysis, De-Shalit’s assessments were revealed to be justified, since immediately following the Bandung conference, the embryonic relations between Beijing and Jerusalem deteriorated. This time, it was the Chinese side that presented obstacles. A Missed Historical Opportunity? The goal of the conference of Asian and African nations held in Bandung, Indonesia was to advance economic and cultural cooperation between these states. Israel, Korea, and Taiwan were boycotted and not invited to participate. Although the principles espoused by the participants were non-identification and non-involvement of one nation in the affairs of others, many participants voiced condemnations of Israel, alongside encouragement and support for the position of the Arab states. Furthermore, during the conference, the participants made a unanimous decision calling for Israel to withdraw to the partition borders drawn by the UN in 1947. Only India and Burma requested an addition to the text of the decision, which stated that all conference decisions had to be carried out peacefully. China remained neutral on this issue. In the years following the conference, the strengthening of solidarity between Asian and African countries led China to tighten its ties with the Arab states, particularly Egypt. This rapidly led to the termination of the developing relationship between China and Israel. What was the real turning point in China’s policy toward Israel? When exactly did the window of opportunity close for establishing full diplomatic relations between the two nations? Was the Bandung Conference the main stumbling block? Some believe that even in December 1954, as hinted above, a significant retreat had begun in the process of reinforcing the China–Israel relationship. At this time, a preparatory meeting for the Bandung Conference was held in Bogor, Indonesia. At this gathering, U Nu, leader of the Burmese delegation, tried unsuccessfully to ensure I to Asia, 249–251. 114 “The China Connection,” Hacohen. 115 “The China Connection,” Eban. 116 Telephone interview with Sufott, December 10, 2013. • 1948 to 1955—The Early Years of Trial and Error    CHAPTER ONE 65 supported initiating ties with China and believed that this would fortify Israel’s international position. He thought that there was no reason to limit the Israeli trade delegation’s mandate to the commercial field. But appar117 Suffott’s claims were inexact, as delegation members were given the opportunity to discuss diplomatic issues with the Chinese. Sufott related only to the delegation’s official mandate and seems not to have been aware of this green light, which was given in strictest confidence. Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir wrote in her autobiography that Israel made every effort in this regard, and that it was the Chinese who failed to respond to Israel’s initiative and even demonstrated contempt for Israel’s desire to create ties. Ya’akov Shimoni also supported Eban’s 118 approach. He actually blamed Moshe Sharett and the conservative position he adopted. But he argued that even if Sharett’s approach was in error, it was hardly a mistake of historical proportions, because in April 1955 China changed its tune, so that any positive development would have been buried at any rate. 119 In retrospect, it seems that the debate on the “missed opportunity“ between Hacohen’s camp and Eban’s was reduced to disagreement on the size of the window of opportunity—in other words, the question of when a chance had existed of saving Israel–China relations, which were fragile from the outset. Here was no deep question of principle, as we sometimes get the impression. Beginning in 1955, China’s acquaintance deepened with Arab states, where weighty political changes were taking place. Egypt became a republic, actively searching for contact with Third World nations that would strengthen its international status; Great Britain abandoned the Middle East; and the struggle began for control of the Suez Canal. The ideological and political map was fundamentally different from that identified during the establishment of revolutionary China and Israel’s revival. In Beijing, the new regime grew anxious that Egypt had not yet granted it recognition. Egypt was the cornerstone in the fabric of potential relations with the Arab world and one of the pillars of the non-identifying bloc. Egypt had already recognized Burma and was considering sending an economic delegation to Taiwan. To China, endangering the relations(or lack thereof) with Israel did not seem such a heavy sacrifice when compared to the political profit A China Diary. 117 Sufott, The Long Road to Asia, 118 Yegar, 253–254. 119 “The China Connection,” Shimoni. 66 China and Israel it served to gain in the Afro-Asian sphere. Further, the Chinese wondered, would Israel be an appropriate supplier of products to China? As already noted, in January and February of 1955 the enthusiasm of the Chinese toward relations with Israel had cooled. Members of the trade delegation were unable to cash the “open check” granted to them by Moshe Sharett. Holding the positions of prime minister and foreign minister simultaneously, Sharett had permitted them to discuss diplomatic and political issues in addition to economic and trade affairs. After the delegation’s return to Israel, Daniel Levin worked to preserve his tenuous relationship with Chen Jiakang, assistant to the Chinese foreign minister, but his efforts were to no avail. His attempts to interest his colleague in the history and culture of the Jewish people did not bear fruit. He pushed the Chinese to give a response by the end of the summer regarding the progress of Israel–China relations. However, Chinese Foreign Ministry documents reveal that while he was occupied with this, glorifying China’s role and even emphasizing that Beijing alone would be the one to determine the level of representation for the two countries, the initial enthusiasm of the Chinese had waned. They no longer intended to relate to the Israeli initiatives on a practical level. Chen was the sole official who still retained authority to engage in secret talks with Jerusalem, but he had no real room to maneuver. He was merely authorized to repeat that in principle, without stating a date, China would establish relations with Israel. Yosef Avidar, Israel’s ambassador to the Soviet Union, and his colleagues in Burma and Finland were left without a response when they made inquiries about this issue. Avidar even made a personal visit to China in 1955, but 120 it led nowhere. In fact, Chinese documents show that his arrival actually embarrassed Beijing, which feared the possibility that the Israeli diplomat’s visit might overlap with a visit by Nasser. Although Avidar met with 121 Zhang Hanfu, China’s deputy foreign minister, the meeting was fruitless. The Chinese were well aware of the Israeli enthusiasm to create ties, but among themselves, they emphasized that in light of the Bandung Conference, they must “freeze the matter temporarily.” This was due to the diplomatic process with the Arab states, as the Chinese anticipated the initiation of ties with them. Accordingly, a delegation comprised of representatives from Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan was receive Cohen really as central as he portrayed himself? Was he really one of the leading forces in Chinese history? After years of study, Levy’s answer • Moshe and Ya’akov—Two Jews in China    CHAPTER TWO 69 immigrated to England and settled there. In London he rapidly proved to be the black sheep of the family. Despite his strict religious upbringing, he cheder preferred to roam the streets rather than sit in the (religious school) and made friends with non-Jewish toughs, joining them in fistfights and street battles, petty crime, and pickpocketing. Eventually he was sent to an institution for underage criminals. As a last resort, his father sent him off to Western Canada to work on a farm of a family friend. But even there, Moshe continued his pranks, gaining a reputation as a card sharp, swindler, skirt-chaser, and gunman. His career at the farm lasted for about a year, and then he began to wander around the towns of Western Canada. He made his living by picking pockets, gambling, and various and sundry shady jobs, including street barker and front man for a circus. He often landed in jail for the frauds that had become his way of life. In Saskatchewan, so the story goes, he physically prevented an armed robbery of a Chinese restaurant where he was dining. For a European to come to the aid of a Chinese person was then considered a rare act of generosity. In appreciation, the grateful restaurant owner introduced Cohen to his friends, and Cohen developed special ties with members of the Chinese community. The Chinese told the young Jewish adventurer about the secret Tong Meng Hui organization (Sun Yat-sen’s revolutionary group) and even accepted him as a member. Eventually, Cohen secured his economic future when he became involved in real estate. His skill at smooth talk, which had aided him in many swindles, also proved useful in deals that were above the table. At age twenty-two, he was able to purchase a new home for his parents in a respectable neighborhood in England. Moshe operated in the local Chinese community in Canada until the First World War began. Canada’s economic situation rapidly deteriorated. Employment opportunities were nil and many had no other option but to volunteer for the army. The real estate office where Moshe worked closed. For this reason, or perhaps even out of a sense of patriotism toward the England of his childhood, he volunteered for the Canadian military forces. is negative: “I had to ignore everything that Drage wrote,” he emphasized, and asserted that “His book is historical fiction” (263–264). For example, Cohen’s statement that he had met Sun Yat-sen in Canada while the Chinese leader was collecting donations for his movement had to be fictional, as Cohen was sitting behind bars at the time. Cohen also falsely claimed that he was wounded on the European front during World War I, and lied about his military rank. In order of publication, the books on Cohen are: Drage, Two-Gun Cohen; Portman and Kipfer, Shadow over China; Levy, Two-Gun Cohen. 70 China and Israel But even as a soldier, Moshe did not abandon his opportunistic ways. Along with other soldiers, even those under his command as a sergeant, he got in trouble with the police and was arrested several times for the use of rude language and illegal consumption of alcohol. In court he always managed to wangle his way out of punishment. In 1917 Cohen’s regiment was 125 transferred to the Corps of Canadian Railway Troops and sent to Europe, where they joined another regiment. Cohen took advantage of the trip to pay a visit to his family in England, during which he enjoyed the services of a local prostitute. After returning to his regiment, he discovered that the price for his weekend entertainment was steep—he was infected with gonorrhea and could not join his troops at the front. He was also stripped of his sergeant’s stripes. Eventually, however, his rank was returned to him, and thanks to his connections with the Chinese, he was sent to work with a Chinese military support force of over 170 laborers. He declared that he was the only person who knew how to deal with the Chinese. The language barrier, the Europeans’ sense of superiority toward the Asians, and the cultural differences could often lead to uncomfortable situations—but Cohen was able to paddle these stormy waters. At the end of the war, he went AWOL for two weeks, asserting that his duty to the military was for the war period only. As punishment, he was again demoted to the rank of private. 126 After the war, Cohen returned to Canada, where he settled in Edmonton. He introduced himself as a sergeant and made a celebratory announcement of his return to the local mayor. After he was formally discharged from the army, the Tong Meng Hui asked him to serve as spokesman for their organization and to assist them in publicity activities. Cohen became the English secretary of the organization. Canadian newspapers from that period document his powerful influence, noting that he was even able to sway the Chinese community’s vote in the local elections. He acted as a vote contractor, and the local candidates negotiated with him. As his esteem grew with the Chinese, his status in Edmonton improved as well. He was elected a member of the Great War Veterans’ Association and tried to use his status to promote the rights of the Chinese community in Canada. He also was in regular contact with senior officials of the Republic of China. When Chen Shu-ren, secretary general o r earthly pleasures. He also told exaggerated stories that were largely fabricated. He crowned himself “general.” 127 Ibid., 118. 128 Ibid., 125. 72 China and Israel In March 1925 Cohen visited Canada, where he was received to great acclaim. But while there, Cohen received word that Sun Yat-sen had died of liver cancer, and the rug was pulled out from under his feet. During 129 that time, chaos reigned in southern China. Communists and Nationalists turned against each other. Some in the West even considered Cohen to be China’s true leader. Meanwhile, he was earning enormous sums through 130 trade in weapons. In this venture he enjoyed the protection of Guomindang leaders such as Sun’s brother-in-law, the banker T.V. Soong; Sun Yat-sen’s son Sun Fo; and southern war heroes such as Li Chi-shen and Ch’en Chi-t’ang. However, Cohen did not have the support of Chiang Kai-shek, who had taken control of the Party. Cohen was promoted to brigadier general and then to major general. 131 In 1935, Cohen went to England to visit his family, as his father was ill. His father died during the visit, and Cohen did everything possible to help his family, supporting them emotionally and financially. When the Sino–Japanese war broke out in 1937, Cohen lent his support to Soong Ching-ling, the late Sun Yat-sen’s wife. He assisted her with her charity projects, and she rewarded him for his efforts. At this point he made his home in Hong Kong, where he assisted Jewish refugees who had come to China, mainly Shanghai. When the Japanese occupied the British colony in 1941, he remained in Hong Kong. The Japanese put him in Stanley Internment Camp, where they interrogated and tortured him, but he continued to feel that his fate was tied to China and remained loyal to that country. Acquaintances from the internment camp period related that he endeared himself to others and did his best to help them. In 1943, he was finally released as part of a rare prisoner exchange agreement. Cohen returned to Canada, where he married a Jewish woman, but he continued his travels and salacious lifestyle, and the marriage ended in 1956. In his later years Cohen looked back fondly on old times and wove myths about his life in China. His name became connected with the building of the new China. As a Jew, he supported the Zionist project. Some say that when the Nationalist China representatives to the UN planned to vote against the partition plan that would enable establishment of the Jewish state, he convinced them to change their stance and abstain from voting in the General Assembly. This abstention helped achieve the majority that 129 Ibid., 139. 130 Ibid., 153. 131 Ibid., 187. • Moshe and Ya’akov—Two Jews in China    CHAPTER TWO 73 was necessary for the UN to approve the plan. At the initial stages of the Cultural Revolution, Cohen visited Israel and according to various witnesses, he expressed amazement at the success of the Zionist project. He attended a performance of a Yiddish play, De Megille by Itzik Manger. But his visit had no repercussions for Israel–China relations. In his final years Moshe moved to Selford, a suburb of Manchester. He visited China regularly. As his name was connected to the nation’s founding fathers, he was permitted to move freely between both the People’s Republic and Nationalist China (Taiwan), a privilege reserved for a small number of unique individuals. Rumor has it that he even tried to bring about an agreement between the opposing camps. He also worked as a consultant for companies operating in China. His last visit to the PRC was in 1966, on the eve of the Cultural Revolution, as a guest of Premier Zhou Enlai. Cohen died on September 7, 1970 and was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Blakely, Manchester. His gravestone was engraved with epitaphs in English, Hebrew, and Chinese. 132 Researchers of Cohen’s life have never been completely able to decipher his character, and the gap between reality and myth, fact and fantasy will probably never be completely closed. Emily Han described this gap in the introduction to her 1988 book on Cohen. She relates how she met Cohen while writing another book on the Soong sisters. Cohen was sent by Mrs. Sun Yat-sen to express her indignation that Han had described her as a “Communist” in the book and to request politely that she change it. She wrote: “Did I ever see him carrying two guns? I don’t think so. Usually he wasn’t even wearing a uniform. But we called him ‘Two-Gun’ anyway, just in case those fearful guns really were present underneath the roomy coat he wore.” 133 Jacob Rosenfeld Dr. Jacob Rosenfeld was another Jew who deserves mention here, as his imprint on the history of the new China was even more powerful than that of Moshe Cohen. Rosenfeld was born on January 11, 1903. He died before he reached fifty and was buried in the Kiryat Shaul cemetery in Tel Aviv. Rosenfeld was ostensibly an ordinary Jew, but beneath even toward its Japanese prisoners, and its soldiers acted according to pure democratic values. General Luo Genannt Langnase, 140 Kaminski, 141. 78 China and Israel Almost nothing has been written about Rosenfeld’s unique experiences during military service in China or about his unusual life. The only work that sheds some light on his story is a study by Gerd Kaminski. His book 141 documents the unprecedented sacrifice of a foreigner on behalf of a people whose language he did not know, while endangering his own life. He practiced military and civilian medicine under conditions that were unbearable, even compared to known battle situations elsewhere. The Chinese Communists who benefitted from his professional services showered him with love and warmth. In times when food was almost nonexistent, they gave him their crumbs of bread, bits of chicken, and rare tidbits. But within this sea of love, the man was lonely. Only one or two others around him spoke German. His Chinese was no more than basic, and the little that he did speak was acquired over many years and with great difficulty. He was often overcome with powerful feelings of longing for his family, especially for his sister Stefanie, whom he hoped to bring to China so that she could assist him. At one point his grateful hosts tried to arrange a marriage for him with an appropriate woman. In the Chinese worldview, a “good” wife meant a woman who would bear him a son, which they considered to be humanity’s ideal achievement. But Rosenfeld rejected the matchmakers’ proposals, insisting that he had no property or means to support a wife. Aside from that, if he had his choice among Chinese women, he asserted that he would prefer a luckless one with smallpox scars over another who might be charming and attractive. Rosenfeld became close to Liu Shaoqi, the political commissar of the New Fourth Army who eventually served as chairman of the People’s Republic of China. After the war and until he left China, Rosenfeld assisted in the construction of a major hospital in the region under the Fourth Army’s control and worked to promote medicine in the new China. In October 1949, Rosenfeld went to Europe, reaching Vienna in November. He intended to find his family in Austria, stay there for a while, and then return to China. He hoped to serve in a medical position, as befitted the status he had acquired during his demanding military service. He also toyed with the idea of serving in a respectable position in the Austrian representation in Beijing. In Vienna, Rosenfeld discovered that his mother had died from illness on the way to Theresienstadt. He was happy to discover that his siblings 141 Ibid. • Moshe and Ya’akov—Two Jews in China    CHAPTER TWO 79 Jerome and Stefanie were still alive; however, he became severely depressed and his health began to decline to dangerous levels. He discovered that he had a serious heart condition, and he had to focus on caring for himself. He tried to write a memoir but was unable to find a publisher willing to take the financial risk of printing the book. In the crazy days of post-war Europe, interest in China was low. When the Korean War broke out and pitted China against most of the UN member states, European empathy waned toward Chinese history and culture. To Rosenfeld’s further frustration, two books by Austrian doctors who had served in China were published. There was no reason to publish a third work on the same topic. Rosenfeld considered returning to China, his only source of hope, but his dreams were never realized. He was caught in the web of Chinese bureaucracy. His colleague from the New Fourth Army, who had become China’s ambassador in East Berlin, apparently did not forward his letter requesting to join the army again, perhaps because he did not want to take the responsibility. Despite the Jewish physician’s unprecedented contributions to the success of the revolution, the new China presumably was not welcoming to foreigners, much less those who were interested in becoming citizens and settling there. Then, as now, ethnic homogeneity was a foundational principle in China. Despite Rosenfeld’s poor health, he continued his efforts to obtain a permit for entry and stay in the country he loved. He received numerous rejections from the Chinese embassy in East Germany—they simply didn’t want him! He was even willing to join the military again, this time to assist as a combat physician in the war in Korea against Western imperialism, then represented by the UN. Rosenfeld was betrayed by the representatives of the very country he had called home for over a decade. Even his friends, including Dr. Shen, were unable to assist him. We may assume that they were afraid to take a stand against the authorities, including the secret service, which was undoubtedly involved in the rejection of Rosenfeld’s application. Homeless and estranged from his native Austria (even if it had been communist, it would have been under Soviet influence, which was unacceptable to Rosenfeld), the Jewish doctor was alone, without family, and desperate. His requests for asylum in the United States also went unanswered. Who in post-war America would welcome an enthusiastic supporter of the Chinese regime, a man who had lent a helping hand to the Communists? McCarthyist America was busy denouncing its own citizens who were even suspected of sympathizing with the “Reds”; there was no 80 China and Israel room for Europeans whose communist connections were proven beyond any shade of doubt. The default option was Israel, and in late July 1951, Rosenfeld arrived in Tel Aviv, where he was welcomed by his brother Joschi and sister-in-law. His other brother Norbert was on his way to Canada. At first, life in Israel seemed promising, and Rosenfeld searched for work as a doctor for a health service or small town. Finally he was offered a position at Assuta Hospital in Tel Aviv. While job-hunting, he continued his attempts to obtain an entry permit and visa to the United States, where he thought he might find a cure for his illness—but to no avail. In 1951 he traveled to Switzerland, where he once more tried his luck with the Chinese. He contacted the Chinese consulate in Bern, but yet again luck frowned at him. He underwent a series of cardiac tests, and the doctors’ conclusion was decisive: he needed a heart operation, but it was too dangerous. There was still no answer from the Chinese. From Switzerland he continued to Bologna, Firenze, and Zurich before returning to Israel. This time, it was his last stop. In March 1952 he suffered a heart attack and collapsed. He was hospitalized in Assuta, the hospital where he worked. He died on April 22 and was buried in the Kiryat Shaul cemetery. To this day, the Chinese revere General “Long Nose” (Luo Shengte), as he was called during his military service. While during the Cultural Revolution, when his former friends Liu Shaoqi and Chen Yi lost favor, he was forgotten, after Mao’s death and the inception of the liberal Open Door economic policy, the Chinese remembered him and he was labelled a national hero. They honored him by giving his name to a hospital in the city of Junan in Shandong Province. In 1992 they erected a statue of him at the entrance to the hospital. He was also commemorated in revolutionary songs and in the central museum adjoining the Mao Zedong Mausoleum in Beijing. In 2003, on the centennial anniversary of Rosenfeld’s death, a special exhibit in his honor was organized in Beijing at the National History Museum at Tiananmen Square by the Austrian-Chinese Friendship Association, the Chinese Friendship Association, and the Shandong Friendship Association. The exhibit included his diary, which tells the story of his life. To commemorate this friend of the Revolution, the Beijing post office issued a special series of three stamps. Earlier on, in 1999, Beit Hatfutsot at Tel Aviv University organized an exhibition in his honor. It was opened by Dr. Gerd Kaminski and the ambassadors of China and Austria. In October 2006, • Moshe and Ya’akov—Two Jews in China    CHAPTER TWO 81 an exhibit on his life opened at the Jewish Museum of Vienna. In 2008, another exhibit opened in Washington, D.C., and the opening was apparently attended by his niece, Ann Margaret Rosenfeld-Frija. After the Chinese embassy in Israel was opened, Chinese visitors to Tel Aviv paid their respects at Rosenfeld’s grave. The secretary of the Israel-China Friendship Association, Dov Mirkin, related that the Israelis had no idea that Rosenfeld was buried right under their noses in Tel Aviv. The news got out only when a request was received from Han Xu, former Chinese ambassador in Washington, to visit the grave during his trip to Israel. The grave had been neglected, but the Austrian-Chinese Friendship Association and the Association of Former Jewish Residents in China initiated efforts to clean it and ensure that it received the care appropriate for a “hero of the Chinese nation,” as he was described by members of the delegation. Finally, faithful visitors paid their respects to this special man 142 who died childless, and they remember his contributions to this day. There was more than a little irony in the Austrian government’s declaration that Rosenfeld symbolized true friendship between China and Austria. His brother Adolph asserted that Jacob had often told him that he could never consider working as a physician in Austria, as he feared he might have to treat a person with Jewish blood on his hands. Yet after his death, the 143 man who had fled Austria, who adamantly denied any connection to his homeland due to its Nazi past and its post-war character, and who refused to return there to live, became a symbol of allegiance between Austria and China. 142 Immerglick, “The Chinese People’s Hero Buried in Tel Aviv.” General Luo Genannt Langnase, 143 Kaminski, 180. Chapter Three 1948 to 1956—Behind the Scenes Over the years, while the pendulum of formal relations between Israel and China was swaying from one extreme to another, a parallel, informal drama was acted out behind the scenes. Various organizations and political parties tried their hand at strengthening ties between Chinese and Israeli society, mainly through visits by Israelis to China. These Israeli visitors belonged to leftist socialist parties and to the Israel Communist Party (ICP, known in Israel by its Hebrew acronym, “Maki”). Often they adopted an attitude of reflexive, almost blind enthusiasm toward China. Their viewpoint was usually one of admiration for the success of the Revolution and glorification of the achievements of the new People’s Republic. But some also preserved a hefty measure of sobriety and identified unwelcome phenomena that had spread throughout China. Undoubtedly the records and memoirs of these visitors open for the researcher an additional, valuable window into the historical narrative. This appreciation and even admiration for the People’s Republic of China was not limited to the Israeli Communist movement, but also characterized kibbutz members in Israel in the 1950s. Documents in the Yad Tabenkin Archives shed light on the informal connection created between Israeli and Chinese citizens and the Israelis’ deep interest in events in China. These documents allow us a view beyond the formal dimension and offer evidence of the esteemed place that China occupied in the hearts, minds, and imaginations of defined groups in Israel. In the first chapter of this book, we examined the formal aspect of Israel–China relations, from the founding of the state in 1948 until the 1956 Suez Crisis. The present chapter focuses on relations between Israeli civil organizations and Chinese society in various contexts. In this case • 1948 to 1956—Behind the Scenes    CHAPTER THREE 83 China adopted a “people-to-people policy”—a unique strategy that it used on occasion to overcome the boycotts that many governments waged against it. Members of Leftist Israeli Parties Visit China During the 1950s, members of the left side of the Israeli political map attended meetings and conferences in China. The Israelis demonstrated optimism and even admiration for the new China; however, they also expressed disappointment that Beijing recognized and communicated with Arab countries yet overlooked Israel. What role did the leftist parties in Israel play in relation to Israel’s policy toward China? What was the nature of the relationship between the communist parties in the two countries? Did they influence the establishment of formal ties in 1992? As early as 1949, members of the Israeli Communist Party (ICP) praised the rise to power of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), as embodied in the declaration of the People’s Republic of China under Mao. The ICP maintained close ties with the CCP until 1960. Later, an ideological chasm separated the two parties based on ICP’s uncompromising support of Russian communism; the “orthodox” form”; and its refusal to accept the unique, independent dogma of the Chinese Communist Party. In October 1949, ICP invited members of CCP to send a delegation to its eleventh congress, the first congress since the establishment of the State of Israel. Mao congratulated ICP on the congress and expressed his regret that it was too early to send a delegation from his party. Although Chinese representatives did not attend this Israeli congress, its atmosphere was imbued with the spirit of the Chinese success story. In his speech at the congress, Shmuel Mikunis, who represented ICP in the Knesset for many years (1948–73), praised the Chinese Revolution as a victory over the imperialist conspiracy in East Asia. Meir Vilner, another member of the party, emphasized the deep connection between the revolution in China and the Soviet example, asserting that China had achieved Soviet standards under Stalin’s tutelage. He quoted Mao himself, who proclaimed that the Communist victory in China would never have been achieved without the Soviet Union’s support. 144 144 Shai, “Israeli Communist Party and PRC,” 87. 84 China and Israel To the Israeli Communists, China was an example and a model. They placed great hope in the Chinese Revolution, which they saw as the forerunner of other revolutions in Asia. They considered that the Chinese Communists had created a new archetype not just for undeveloped societies but also for developed states like Israel. The Israelis understood the quiet co-existence between national minorities in China and the Han people, the largest ethnic group in China, as an example of a peaceful means of conflict resolution. The Israelis hoped that they could implement this model. Additional Chinese initiatives, such as reforms in agriculture and education, were also considered prototypes for the transformations that the young State of Israel should adopt. Israel faced tough social challenges due to the waves of immigrants landing on its shores, and economic and social problems loomed. It was thus no surprise that the Chinese plan for eliminating ignorance and for transferring entire industries to the workers, as well as adoption of the progressive Constitution of 1954, were reported Kol Ha’Am in detail in the ICP newspaper (“Voice of the People”), published in fifty thousand copies per issue. These were encouraging reports, 145 written from a naïve, uncritical viewpoint that bordered on idealization of events taking place in that distant land. Aside from the Soviet Union, no other communist regime in the world enjoyed such a detailed survey or such lavish praise as the Chinese government and party received from the ICP spokesmen and journal. The first visit of ICP members to China took place in January 1950, when Ruth Lubitz participated in the Congress of Asian Women in Beijing. There she met with members of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and held informal talks with them. Naturally, she expressed her party’s position on issues such as the Arab–Israeli conflict and social and economic conditions in Israel and China. On January 15, at the Congress plenum, Lubitz declared that Western imperialism was the source of the ongoing Arab–Israeli conflict. In accordance with the accepted socialist line of reasoning, she added that when socialism strengthened its position in Israel, relations with China would improve concurrently. In her book Lubitz described the visit to China as a historic visit. In fact, this was the first delegation to visit China, and its participants observed the buds of tions between representatives of the Nationalist regime and their Communist enemies before the I Chose to Live the Struggle, 146 Lubitz, 320–329. 86 China and Israel Revolution. In one case, she wrote, factory laborers and pro-Communist farmers had convinced their enemies to unite around the flag of rebellion using appropriate arguments, instead of resorting to violence. Lubitz obviously believed these rumors, as this model of an internal ideological struggle seemed fitting to her and could even serve as a model in other locations around the world to replace bloody battles. Lubitz also praised agrarian reform in China and echoed her colleagues in stating that this path would improve the standard of living, the status of women, and the fields of education and health. 147 In October of 1950, ICP representative Shmuel Mikunis traveled to Warsaw to meet with the Chinese ambassador to Poland. Additional meetings were held in Moscow, Eastern Europe, and Beijing between communist activists from Israel and Chinese officials of various levels. 148 In 1954, Yair Zaban, a leading member of the Israeli left, resigned from the Mapam political party and joined the ICP. Zaban visited China that year, and he wrote about the experience of travelling on the Trans-Siberian Railway, which made a powerful impression on him. He noted that booming speakers played the official railway song “Moscow-Peking” in Russian at the Moscow station, and when the train reached the station at the Manchurian border, the same song was played in Chinese. In an article published twenty-five years later, he quoted the refrain, “The pact of brotherhood will last forever.” But in fact, this “pact of brotherhood” did not last. In 1960 a deep chasm opened between China and the Soviet Union, symbolizing the end of innocence and the belief that these two socialist countries would remain eternally united. While in Beijing, the young Zaban attended a performance of a classic Peking opera. His escort, a young English teacher from the state institute of foreign languages, asserted that China had created a unique combination of cultural values and traditional forms of creative expression, and new values for life and society. The performance that he witnessed was not far from reality. It was based on a chapter from the traditional Chinese drama Outlaws of the Marsh. This story presented ordinary Robin Hood-style 149 147 Vagman, “Agricultural Reform in China: Notes from a Visit.” 148 Shai, “Israeli Communist Party and PRC,” 88. 149 Also known as Water Margin and All Men are Brothers. One of the four best-known Chinese novels of the Ming dynasty, attributed to Shi Nai’an (1296–1372), but possibly written later by another author. The novel contains Robin-Hood style stories about 108 outlaw heroes who live at the edges of the water. • 1948 to 1956—Behind the Scenes    CHAPTER THREE 87 heroes as outlaws and had previously been prohibited as it was considered subversive. But with the Communist regime’s support, the story regained popularity. When the Chinese escort witnessed Zaban chain-smoking, he revealed to the Israeli guest that he had quit smoking after Mao had ordered everyone to stop this dangerous practice. Zaban was moved by the depth of admiration and gratefulness that the Chinese displayed toward their leader. The feelings they expressed seemed untainted by hypocrisy or pretense. According to Zaban, the world had never before witnessed such blind willingness to follow their leader. 150 Aside from Zaban’s visit, additional contact took place between the ICP and CCP in the 1950s. In 1954 young Israeli representatives visited Beijing for a meeting of the Federation of Democratic Youth. An ICP del151 was invited to China by the Chinese Association of Workers’ Union to mark the founding of the All-Asian Union Organization. According to Kol Ha-Am, the Israeli participants discussed the issue of Israel–China relations with their hosts. But the meeting was not utilized for exchang152 messages intended to advance or change the status quo. Members of the two parties adopted a tactic of compartmentalization of information, intended to separate the level of official bilateral relations from the level of collegial relations between the two political parties. Other cases support this characterization, which is typical of this specific issue. 1956 was a relatively fruitful year, rich in encounters for ICP members. In April, the Twentieth Congress of the Soviet Communist Party was held in Moscow, during which Shmuel Mikunis discussed Israel–Chinese relations with his colleagues from the Chinese Communist Party. That same 153 month Ruth Lubitz visited Beijing again, this time for the congress of the International Democratic Women’s Federation commemorating the tenth anniversary of its founding. The congress was attended by 183 representatives from forty-eight countries. In September, just before the Suez Crisis 154 broke out, senior ICP officials David (Sasha) Khenin, Fuad Houri, and Meir Vilner met with their Chinese colleagues for the Eighth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. In his address to the Congress, Vilner defended 150 Zaban, “Confucianizing Marx?” 151 Protocol of the meeting of the United Kibbutz Movement secretariat, June 13, 1954. Yad Tabenkin Archives, 2-4/11/3. Kol Ha-Am, 152 December 10, 1954. 153 Shai, “Israeli Communist Party and PRC,” 89–90. 154 Yad Tabenkin Archives, 15-36/3/1. 88 China and Israel the Egyptian stance on the Suez Crisis. In his opinion, steps taken by the Egyptians would eventually serve to weaken imperialism in the region. He praised the achievements of the Chinese government and the CCP’s successful implementation of Marxism–Leninism while adapting the ideology to China’s unique conditions. He thus implied that what the Chinese termed “Mao’s Thought” served as a bridge between Marxist–Leninist theory and the specific conditions prevailing in China. As for strengthening Israel– 155 China relations, Vilner noted the efforts undertaken by ICP members toward this end. At the same time, he admitted that the time was not yet ripe to establish full diplomatic relations between the two countries. This lecture was delivered in the presence of Zhou Enlai and other senior CCP officials, and they applauded the Israeli when he finished speaking. On 156 September 25, Zhou and Vilner met for an extensive conversation during which they discussed relations between the two countries. At this stage, 157 ICP members unconditionally and automatically supported each position of the Chinese government and every process that it initiated. It is no surprise, therefore, that they also justified Beijing’s hesitant stance toward the establishment of full diplomatic relations with Israel. But the discussions that ICP members held with CCP colleagues did not bear any real fruit. To a large extent this was a repeat performance, in an informal setting, of the initial Israeli efforts toward contact with China— efforts that were ultimately unsuccessful. Other Israeli Visits to China ICP members were not the only Israelis who visited China. Representatives of other parties also spoke with the Chinese despite the absence of a formal framework for the relationship. Two women joined Ruth Lubitz at the International Women’s Conference as representatives of the Organization of Democratic Women in Israel: Yocheved Bat-Rachel of the Labor Federation and Emma Talmi-Levine of the United Workers’ Party (Mapam). This visit by the three Israeli women was particularly important considering that it took place one year after the Bandung conference, which as mentioned 155 Schurmann, Ideology and Organization in Communist China. 156 Interview with Meir Vilner, home of the Chinese ambassador, Savyon, September 28, 1995. 157 Shai, “Israeli Communist Party and PRC,” 89–90. • 1948 to 1956—Behind the Scenes    CHAPTER THREE 89 was a foundational but not positive event in the history of Israel–China relations. In the Path I Walked, In her book Bat-Rachel describes her experience during the visit. She details the various political issues that arose in the 158 discussions and recalls the attitude of the conference participants toward Israel, mainly regarding matters that had arisen at Bandung. The conference participants identified with the spirit of the Afro-Asian conference, voicing condemnations of Israel alongside encouragement and support for the position of the Arab states, and this was expressed in the report that was published. The Chinese representative to the congress was the minister of health, whom Bat-Rachel describes as “an intelligent woman . . . who occupies a high position in public and political life.” The Chinese minister attempted to suggest a compromise for the text on the universal desire for peace. In this proposal, objections were expressed to the “Baghdad Pact” (Middle East Treaty Organization) and support for the Bandung principles. This pushed the balance of support over to the Arab side. At the same time, the Chinese delegation did not call to adopt all the Bandung decisions and did not include some decisions in the congress report, such as the demand to return refugees from 1948 to territory of the State of Israel. Undoubtedly, from the point of view of China and the Afro-Asian states, the Bandung conference was a central signpost on the road to formulating their foreign policies. Bat-Rachel gained the impression that the Chinese were wooing the representatives of Arab countries and showed almost no interest in the Israeli delegation. The attitude toward Israel was as to a foreign growth that had no place among the Asian nations or the Third World. 159 Representatives of the Israeli delegation visited the Natural History Museum in Beijing, and Bat-Rachel presented a gift to the museum manager—an album from the Ein Harod Institute of Arts. She tried to initiate contact between institutions, including an exchange of art works. But the Chinese museum manager gently rejected her proposal. As Bat-Rachel wrote: “I understood that he needed the approval of the government’s Ministry of Culture in order to have any contact with foreigners.” 160 The May Day celebrations in China made a deep impression on Bat-Rachel and Talmi-Levine. Bat-Rachel wrote vivid descriptions of the sights and sounds and was impressed by the people’s loyalty to Chairman In the P of contacts to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, mentioned in the previous chapter. 171 Shai, “Israeli Communist Party and PRC,” 86–88. • 1948 to 1956—Behind the Scenes    CHAPTER THREE 93 and 1955 regarding China was not totally opposed to the ICP or Mapam position in the Knesset, in public expressions, especially Knesset discussions, the formal representatives erected a firm barrier against the ICP stance. They aspired to make achievements with regard to China while avoiding undesirable public repercussions that might aggravate Israel–US relations. At the UN in 1954, members of the National Committee for Peace in Israel, headed by Mapam members (including Meir Ya’ari and Israel Bar-Yehuda) and ICP members (such as Tawfik Toubi) protested Israel’s vote on China, which was unusual. On September 24 the committee sent a letter to Moshe Sharett and the Israeli delegation at the UN General Assembly calling for definitive support of People’s Republic of China’s bid for UN membership. They protested what they called an “unnatu172 and illegal” situation that prevented a major country like China from representation in the international organization. How was it possible, they asked, that Nationalist China (Taiwan) could represent all the Chinese people on the global stage? In general, in all the issues that concerned China in the internal sphere as well as the external arena, ICP adopted the international Communist line wholeheartedly. It called for non-intervention in China’s internal affairs and considered Taiwan and Tibet to be internal issues. Regarding Taiwan, ICP argued that the agreements of the Cairo Conference of 1943, as well as the Teheran and Potsdam agreements, defined the island as an inseparable part of China. As for Tibet, ICP considered that sending Chinese military forces there in 1950 was not an act of occupation but rather legitimate enforcement of order over a rebellious region by the ruling government. All in all, ICP blamed international imperialism in the style of Great Britain, Japan, and others for carving up China into zones of influence. It considered Tibet to be a victim of this policy, and Beijing was obligated to return this region to the state and establish internal order there as necessary. To the ICP there was no harm in Beijing’s attempt to bring the Revolution’s message to the far-flung districts, including Tibet, where “parasitic religious priests” were exploiting the people. 173 The ICP trumpeted China’s policy in Asia and Kol Ha’Am heaped its praises on the agreements that China signed with India and North Korea, 172 Yad Tabenkin Archives, 15-31/26/3. 173 Shai, “Israeli Communist Party and PRC,” 88. 94 China and Israel especially clauses that addressed the food supply. The ICP noted with satisfaction that the new China was enjoying increasing recognition from international organizations. As noted above, the Korean War put an end to Israel’s non-identification policy, resulting in many years of postponing a China–Israel agreement on the establishment of diplomatic relations. When China actively and openly entered the military conflict in the Korean Peninsula, the leftist opposition in Israel considered that “the American war machine” was merely an instrument designed to exploit the Korean crisis and topple the revolutionary regime in China, thus reversing the social and economic achievements it had brought about. The declarations of President Truman and American generals strengthened the feeling that the anti-revolutionary process in Korea was planned in consultation with leaders of the Republic of China in Taiwan. In essence, the ICP viewed China’s involvement in the Korean War as a step parallel to the sending of international anti-fascist forces to Spain during its civil war. 174 After the war, ICP and other leftist parties attempted to turn back the wheel to a balanced policy between the blocs. Years later Knesset member Meir Vilner stressed in an interview that he had aimed to keep the China issue from disappearing from the Israeli agenda—to “keep it alive.” In 175 this regard, the ICP was successful. After 1956, when all hopes of contact between the two states dissolved, the ICP’s activity focused on strengthening ties between itself and the Chinese Communist Party. However, the ICP was unable to achieve this goal. Although relations between the two communist parties were not completely cut off, continuing during the freeze in Israel–China relations, in the end the Great Leap Forward put a stop to these contacts. Like most of the communist parties around the world, the ICP viewed this unprecedented act, which included the Mao personality cult, as a distortion of and deviation from communism. Undoubtedly, it proved to be a painful awakening. 174 Ibid., 88–89. 175 Ibid., 87. Chapter Four 1955 to 1978—No Contact This chapter will reinforce Yigal Alon’s statement in the late 1970s that “the Asian continent is very problematic from an Israeli point of view.” I rely here on public documents as well as new primary sources and evidence. Throughout the relatively long period surveyed here, communica176 between the two countries was practically nonexistent. Finally, in 1978 a breakthrough was achieved that renewed dialogue between the Israeli establishment and its Chinese counterpart. The period discussed here begins on April 24, 1955, when the Bandung Conference concluded by noting the need to recognize “the rights of the Palestinian people” without mentioning the State of Israel. After this date, relations between Beijing and Jerusalem began to deteriorate and reached their lowest point with China voicing expressions of hostility toward Israel. At the same time, China entered a period of rapprochement with Arab states, particularly Egypt. Under Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt formally recognized the People’s Republic of China in May 1956, on the eve of the Sinai Campaign (Suez Crisis). During this war the Chinese defined Egypt’s battle against France and Great Britain over the Suez Canal as a struggle against imperialist powers, with Israel as their submissive servant. Several factors contributed to China’s intensifying criticism of Israel: the split between China and the Soviet Union in 1960; the continuation of the Cold War in the international arena; and the tightening of relations between Israel and the United States, mainly during the presidency of Lyndon Johnson. For its part, Israel backpedaled its attempts to woo the new China. At that point it was no longer possible to ignore the clear messages sent to Jerusalem by Israel’s representatives in the United States, led by Abba Eban. These messages clarified unequivocally that Israel could not 176 Interview of Yigal Alon by Reudor Manor, Kibbutz Ginossar, August 26, 1979, on behalf of the Hebrew University Davis Center for International Relations. 96 China and Israel make independent diplomatic overtures as if it were a non-identified state, particularly with regard to China. 177 The Sino–Soviet split that deepened during the 1960s and 1970s intensified Beijing’s desire to strengthen its influence in the Afro-Asian sphere in general, and particularly in the Arab world. China placed a high priority on pushing the Soviet Union into a distant corner in the international arena and creating a third bloc that the People’s Republic would lead. During these decades, China attempted to strengthen its influence in Asia, Africa, and Latin American countries and continued its harsh criticism of the Israeli government. China did not accept Israel’s position that its reprisal operations against its Arab neighbors (carried out in response to frequent attacks against its territory) were intended to prevent illegal infiltration of Palestinians into Israel. In addition, China viewed the establishment of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1964 as an opportunity to advance its own objectives, and not surprisingly, it became the first non-Arab state to recognize the PLO. During that time China also tried to initiate another Afro-Asian congress to which the Soviet Union would not be invited. Again, as Zhou Enlai emphasized, China was willing to see Palestine as an integral part of the Arab world—an initiative that served to advance China’s own interests. An important signpost in the relationship between China and the Palestinian Liberation Organization was PLO chairman Ahmad al-Shukeiri’s visit to China on March 22, 1965. The Israelis realized that this was a momentous occasion, and in response to the visit, Israel’s delegation to the UN changed its usual voting pattern. As mentioned above, during that period the delegation usually voted in favor of granting the Chinese seat to the People’s Republic, but in 1965 it voted to grant the seat to Taiwan. Delegation members had intended to cast their usual vote, but this time, Mordechai Arbel, a young, determined diplomat who had recently joined the delegation, insisted that the time had come to clarify to the Chinese that their enthusiastic support of the PLO could not continue without a suitable Israeli response. Mordechai Arbel sent his arguments to then Foreign Minister Golda Meir, who supported his approach and announced that this time, Israel would vote for Taiwan. That year the UN vote was decided in favor of Taiwan by a narrow margin. Years li delegation to the UN, Foreign Ministry documents. See also SIGNAL, “The Geography of Sino–Israeli Relations,” Tjong-Alvares (online document). 98 China and Israel Habash, and the Popular Democratic Front under Naef Hawatmeh. China criticized these two marginal organizations for their Russian Communist slant. Beijing also condemned the Popular Front’s tactic of hijacking aircraft, as done at Zarka airport in Jordan in 1970, calling this an “impulsive act.” 179 When the Six Day War broke out in June 1967, mass demonstrations of support for the Arab states were held in Beijing. China still pursued their policy of non-recognition of Israel’s right to occupy any part of its territory, even areas inside the pre-1967 borders. Apparently, without getting into the thick of the issue, China expressed praise for “the heroic acts of the Palestinians in the occupied territories—in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Eilat, and Jerusalem.” During the Cultural Revolution, such declarations stemmed from lack of knowledge of the reality in the Middle East and not necessarily from an educated, careful decision to completely reject the State of Israel’s existence. China applauded the 1970s crisis between Egypt and the Soviet Union, which reached its climax with the deportation of Soviet advisors from Cairo. The Chinese regime viewed the Arab governments as a revolutionary force that was acting against what they called “American imperialism“ and “Soviet hegemony.” During the same period, the regime in China tended to bind these two terms together. The attack against Soviet hegemony derived from a complex methodological and ideological problem: from a pure Marxist point of view, a socialist state could not be called “imperialist.” This would be an internal contradiction as, theoretically, imperialism derived from the capitalist system. A socialist state that behaved similarly to capitalist-imperialist states was therefore called “hegemonic.” This term became more common as the battle against the Soviet Union intensified. Israel’s stance remained as in the past. It was prepared to establish full relations with China and to accept its legitimate right to rule even in the regions under dispute, such as Tibet and Taiwan. The Israeli delegations to the UN usually continued to vote in favor of Beijing’s right to serve as China’s exclusive representative. But China did not return the favor—it continued to pursue its anti-Israel policy. The Yom Kippur War, which began when the Arabs launched a surprise attack on Israel in 1973, did nothing to change Beijing’s policy. China favored the Arab states, which were involved in a dispute over rejection of the ceasefire that had been agreed upon by the 179 Ibid. • 1955 to 1978—No Contact    CHAPTER FOUR 99 two major world powers. After the war China supported the oil embargo that several Arab states initiated against the United States and Great Britain in an attempt to convince these powers to roll back their support of Israel. China also favored inviting the PLO to become an observer at the UN and supported Resolution 3379 of the General Assembly, which determined that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” 180 Eventually, three events were to catalyze significant change in the relations between the two countries: the China–Vietnam War of 1979, adoption of the Open Door Policy after Mao’s death, and the collapse of the Soviet bloc in 1989. After that point the two countries began confidential military and technological cooperation, with Israeli businessman Shaul Eisenberg acting as go-between. We will explore this story further in the next chapter. The Israel Communist Party and the Chinese Communist Party: The Great Leap Backward While relations were at a standstill, one remaining thread connected China and Israel: contact between the oppositionist ICP and the ruling Chinese Communist Party. What was the nature of the relationship between the two political parties? To what extent did they influence the establishment of formal ties between the two states in early 1992? What was the stance of the Israeli Communists toward the Chinese Communist Party and its practical and ideological fluctuations, the Great Leap Forward (1958–61), and the Cultural Revolution (1966–76)? In 1949, ICP members praised the CCP for seizing power and for declaring the establishment of the People’s Republic under Mao’s leadership. As mentioned in Chapter Three, the ICP maintained close ties with the CCP until 1960. But after that their relationship suffered an ideological split due to the ICP’s uncompromising support for the Soviet Union’s orthodox form of communism and its unwillingness to accept the unique, revolutionary, and highly independent policy of the CCP. The ICP viewed the Great Leap Forward as pretentious, unfounded ideologically, and a distortion of pure communism. It also rejected the Cultural Revolution, which resulted from the Mao personality cult. 180 In 1991, when UN Resolution 3379 was repealed by the General Assembly (Resolution 4686), China was absent from the vote. 100 China and Israel As mentioned, 1956 was a relatively productive year, rich in international meetings of ICP members such as the Twentieth Congress of the Soviet Communist Party. This historical congress marked the beginning of the process of de-Stalinization. During the meeting, Shmuel Mikunis discussed Israel–China relations with his colleagues in the CCP. Here we 181 recall Ruth Lubitz’s second visit to China and the conversations held by 182 senior ICP officials David (Sasha) Khenin, Fuad Houri, and Meir Vilner with their Chinese colleagues in Beijing at the Eighth Congress of the CCP (during Vilner’s first visit to China). 183 At the time, Khenin was serving as ICP secretary for the Tel Aviv district. In a personal interview, he described the “ideological” visits to China made before the Suez Crisis and recalled the delegation of Israeli youth 184 that participated in the council of the World Federation of Democratic Youth in 1954. Delegation members included Yair Zaban and George Toubi (Tawfik’s brother). From 1956 to 1960, additional visits were made by individuals such as Tawfik Toubi, Samih al-Qasim, and Zvi Bernstein (husband of Esther Vilenska). In 1959 Bernstein made an official visit to China for the tenth anniversary celebration of the Communist Revolution. All the visitors traveled to China through Moscow, and as Yair Zaban noted, this enabled ICP members to meet with senior officials of the Soviet Communist Party. Khenin considered it unimportant that the two senior leaders of his party, Moshe Sneh and Samuel Mikunis, did not visit China. His explanation for this was that the two were concerned with other, more urgent affairs. In 1957 Mikunis met Mao in Moscow at a gathering of communist leaders. Mikunis reported that Mao demonstrated knowledge of the history of Jews in China, but beyond that no progress on the issue of relations between the two states was made during their meeting. Khenin attempted to convince Mao to intervene with Nikita Khrushchev on behalf of Russian Jewry, but it is doubtful that this initiative bore any fruit. 185 David Khenin visited China again in 1960, this time as a member of the ICP secretariat and central leadership. His visit was planned for an entire month, but he unexpectedly shortened it to two weeks. According 181 Shai, “Israeli Communist Party and PRC,” 89–90. 182 Yad Tabenkin Archives, 15-36/3/1. 183 Interview 0 From the collected correspondence of Emmanuel Gelber, personal copy: “Sources of Energy in the PRC,” Israel Foreign Ministry, October 16, 1974. 104 China and Israel toward the West, expressing hope for some change. The previous January, 191 he had reported personnel changes in the Chinese military. This, he said, was announced “in the typical Chinese manner—with an incidental mention of meetings between military leaders and the public. This is how the government publicized these changes in the leadership of the Chinese military, the broadest ever since the ousting of commanders after the failure of the Lin Biao uprising in 1971.” He analyzed the replacements and ascribed them to the central leadership’s attempt to remove discreetly the local commanders whom it considered to have acquired too much power. 192 Gelber demonstrated deep understanding of the processes that were taking place throughout China. He related thoroughly to Beijing’s relations with Taiwan and Hong Kong as well as to cultural issues (as evidenced 193 in a commentary he wrote on anti-Confucius propaganda in 1973). He 194 even wrote about China’s policy toward Israel and the Jews. Immediately following the Yom Kippur War, which was covered widely in the Chinese media, he sent a detailed report to Jerusalem on its consequences for the relationship between the two states. In general Gelber concluded that Israel was not a significant factor for China, and only slight attention was paid to it. As there were almost no Jewish communities in China, and China had no historic debt to the Jewish people or to the State of Israel, relations with Israel in the 1970s were insignificant. The entire Middle East, despite its oil reserves, did not occupy a prominent position in China’s global strategy of that period. Beijing’s main motivations in the Middle East were the desire to be the leader of the Third World and to garner the support of the Muslims in Southeast Asia. The rift with the Soviet Union had continued for over fifteen years and was also part of China’s global strategy. China was surprised by the Arab states’ dependence on Russia, as revealed in the war in the Middle East. This fact clarified to China that it still had a long way to go to achieve the position of leader of the Third World. 195 Gelber thought that China’s interest in the continued existence of the State of Israel derived, ironically, from the fact that Israel was an important 191 Gelber, “Replacement of the Foreign Minister in China.” 192 Gelber, “Replacement of Personnel in the Chinese Military.” 193 Gelber, “China and Hong Kong.” 194 Gelber, “Anti-Confucius Campaign.” 195 Goodstadt, “The Middle East Backlash,” Far Eastern Economic Review, vol. 82 (November 12, 1973). Gelber relied on Goodstadt’s article on this issue. • 1955 to 1978—No Contact    CHAPTER FOUR 105 obstacle to Soviet domination of the Middle East. Still, he argued that Israel could not expect a drastic change in Beijing’s negative attitude toward Jerusalem, as China intended to make full use of its connections with the Arab states. China’s formal position blamed Israel for starting the war, 196 asserting that its motivation was largely a desire to conquer additional territories. The Chinese placed heavy emphasis on the success of the Arab armies and terror organizations in the early stages the war. They noted that the Soviet Union had “aided the Israeli war effort” by permitting Russian Jews to emigrate to Israel, thus granting a much-needed infusion of human resources to the Jewish state. After the ceasefire, the Chinese media dropped its interest in the Middle East. 197 At Gelber’s request, information was also gathered by American Jews supportive of Israel who visited China. They took notes on popular opinions about Israel, Jews, and the Zionist project. These unofficial impressions clarified that the Chinese viewed Zionism as a branch of imperialism, which is how it was described by the Chinese media. These opinions were mainly “stereotypical and dictated.” The media repeated the theory of Israel as an aggressive occupation state “in the same category as racist Portugal and South Africa.” Undoubtedly, in that period only a limited number of Chinese had any knowledge of the history of the Jewish people and their suffering. Gelber’s overall attitude was that Israel should continue to try, even in unconventional ways, to influence China and strengthen ties with it. For example, he proposed “reaching out to the Chinese” through Americans who had friendly ties with China and who were also friends of Israel, or through ordinary citizens of China who might be impartial. Throughout his career, Gelber hoped that someday Israel would succeed in “going behind the wall, if only to avoid discouraging Jewish friends who visit there from trying to act in our interest.” 198 The discussion over Asia’s importance to Israel also arose in an interview with Yigal Alon, who emphasized that this continent had been 199 “perhaps the least important in Israeli foreign policy throughout the entire existence of the State of Israel, for well-known reasons.” He criticized this attitude and also the decision to end the activity of the Israeli embassies in 196 Gelber, “China and the War in the Middle East,” November 27, 1973. 197 Ibid., “The Yom Kippur War in the Media of the PRC,” Israel Foreign Ministry, November 26, 1973. 198 Ibid., “Israel’s Imag in the United States. Romanian head of state Nicolae Ceaușescu and George Macovescu, Romania’s foreign minister, had excellent ties with China on • 1955 to 1978—No Contact    CHAPTER FOUR 107 ideological grounds, and Alon asked them to help as well. He reported that he also contacted the widow of Edgar Snow, journalist and China expert, who was pro-Israeli; an American businessman who promised to arrange a meeting for him in China; and representatives of the socialist left in Great Britain, who also promised to help. He mentioned Shimon Peres’ attempt to use his contacts with German politician Franz Josef Strauss to put out feelers to the Chinese on the Israel issue during Strauss’ visit there. According to Alon, Kissinger asked him to be patient, as a breakthrough in China– Israel relations could not take place solely on the basis of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing. Rather, Israel had to wait for full normalization of relations between the United States and China. Ostensibly positive signs appeared here and there. For example, in a speech at the Chinese military academy, the Chinese defense minister praised Israel as a militarily strong country. Finally in the late 1970s, informal, confidential contact began between Israel and China with the intervention and assistance of Jewish businessman Shaul Eisenberg. Eventually Eisenberg initiated contact between Israel’s military industry and the Chinese military establishment. This development took place against the backdrop of the China–Vietnam war and the failures of the Chinese military during its preliminary stages. The period surveyed here was thus characterized by an almost total lack of contact between China and Israel. Any contact that did take place was coincidental and led to no breakthroughs in relations between the two states. The communist parties in both countries were also unsuccessful in acting as occasional bridges between them. The dialogue between representatives of the two parties, despite occurring in a wide variety of forums at numerous opportunities, produced no positive results—apparently, ideological affinity was not enough. Ironically, contact between the United States and China, opposing ideological regimes from both sides of the political map in the international arena, was initiated during the period of President Richard Nixon, a manifestly right-wing leader. It was Nixon who became the one to pave the road to China while admirers of China and its ideology on the liberal American left were left behind. Chapter Five Clandestine Contact—Shaul Eisenberg in China Shaul Nehemiah Eisenberg was a mysterious and powerful individual. This became readily evident at the large meetings and receptions that he attended and in the way that interviewees spoke of him after his death. Even those who knew him only superficially or who had heard of him second- or third-hand became his admirers. Eisenberg was born in Munich in 1921, the fifth of six children of Sophie and David Eisenberg. His mother was from Krakow and his father 200 from Warsaw, but both had immigrated to Germany in their youth, so the language they spoke at home was German. Three of Shaul’s siblings were also born in Munich. One of the brothers, Raphael, was ordained as a rabbi. Shaul was also given a religious education and was exposed to a traditional atmosphere at home. After Kristallnacht in late 1938, when Shaul was seventeen, the family was deported to the no-man’s land on the Poland–Germany border. He 201 fled to Switzerland where he worked for ten days pushing an apple cart. On the eleventh day he was detained, as he lacked the proper formal documentation. He would later relate that he made the first deal in his life in this quiet, mountainous country. First he located other individuals who needed documents. Then he went to the consul of Paraguay, who issued papers for the clients. The two split the payment of one hundred francs per customer. Eventually, Shaul used the money he had saved to help 202 his parents emigrate to Shanghai. As for himself, after his Swiss residence papers expired, he crossed the border on foot into France. Then he went to Business Week 200 “The Business Empire of a Global Mystery Man,” (November 16, 1981). 201 Levin, “The Man Who Buys and Sells Everything.” 202 Ibid. • Clandestine Contact—Shaul Eisenberg in China    CHAPTER FIVE 109 Luxembourg and from there to Belgium and Holland. Throughout his 203 life he would criticize the leaders of the Jewish community in Switzerland for their failure to offer any shelter and assistance to him or to other refugees. While in Antwerp he worked in a vegetable store, where he earned sixty Belgian francs per week, a paltry sum that forced him to steal food for survival. 204 In Holland, Eisenberg was caught by the border police, as once again he lacked the proper documents. The authorities took him in for investigation and sent him to a refugee camp, where he was detained for six weeks. Then, in May 1940, he was given permission to sail outside the country. He boarded a British cargo ship and, after a stay in Singapore, he finally reached the cosmopolitan city of Shanghai, where his parents and one of his siblings were living. His ticket was paid for by a non-Jewish family he had 205 met who happened to own the shipping company. While at sea Eisenberg 206 began to do as he had on land—make business deals. This time he worked with a British national who operated the ship store. Eisenberg sold whiskey and cigarettes to the ship’s Chinese passengers, and the two shared the profit. In distant Shanghai he quickly realized that finding a job was not at all 207 simple. He refused to depend on the Jewish community’s charity organizations. He thus went to Manchuria (Manchukuo), the puppet state that the Japanese had created and controlled, and from there he sailed to the Land of the Rising Sun—Japan. Global Business Eisenberg made his way to Tokyo, where there was a Jewish community. There he met the Yamada family and went to live in their home. He began his career in the business world by buying scrap metal (such as tanks and armored personnel carriers) and selling it to the Japanese government. Japan was then involved in military operations in China and preparing for attacks on Southeast Asia, and it needed large quantities of steel. 208 203 Ibid. 204 Ben-Porat, “I Nicked Vegetables So I’d Have Something to Eat,” first article in the series “Conversations with Eisenberg.” 205 “The Man in the Middle,” Ha’Aretz supplement, November 20, 1981. 206 Ben-Porat, “I Nicked Vegetables So I’d Have Something to Eat.” 207 Lipkin, “He Began with Fifty Dollars and Ended with Over a Billion.” 208 Levin, “The Man Who Bought and Sold Everything.” 110 China and Israel One year later, Japan entered the Second World War, and Eisenberg married Lea Nobuko-Freudelsperger, daughter of a Japanese-Austrian family. Her father, Herman Freudelsperger, was a graduate of the Vienna Academy of Art. He fell in love with Japan, settled there, and painted portraits of members of the Japanese aristocracy and banking families. He established a network of contacts in commercial and financial circles and it was apparently through these contacts that Shaul developed his own personal contacts. As a foreign citizen of one of Japan’s allies, he was able to carry out unique transactions, and his business began to prosper. For example, he purchased iron ore from Australia and the Philippines and sold it to local manufacturers who were trying to rebuild their factories. He expanded his purchases of iron ore to the United States, India, and Chile and became the main steel supplier for the giant Japanese manufacturer Yawata. Eventually he occupied such a prominent position in Japan’s steel industry that after the war, the Japanese included him in the first industry delegation to the United States. 209 The Japanese respected Eisenberg as a foreigner who had chosen to live in their country. As his wife was half-Japanese, the natives felt they could trust him in business as an agent and go-between. In the difficult post-war period following Japan’s surrender and the dismantling of the giant Japanese corporations, one way he could assist them was to register property temporarily under his name. When the limitations were lifted, he assured his clients, he would return the property to its owner. After the restrictions finally ended and the Japanese could again reconstruct their giant corporations, Eisenberg returned ownership honestly and without hesitation. In exchange he gained the goodwill and trust of his business partners. This was an important asset that bore fruit in the future. In 210 the 1950s, he constructed the Jewish Community Center in Japan, which became a meeting point that united the local Jewish community. After the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Japan in 1952, Eisenberg donated a building for the use of the Israeli ambassador. In addition, he served as an agent for creating the first com211 ties between the two countries. He was instrumental in making the connection for constructing a bulk carrier between Zim, Israel’s shipping Ha’Are e ten million dollars toward the construction of a hospital in Jaffa in his mother’s name, but construction was halted after the frame was built. 116 China and Israel One Billion Chinese Await After Mao died, Hua Guofeng was pushed aside and Deng Xiaoping’s status rose. The momentum of the Cultural Revolution gradually slowed, opening a window of opportunity for Shaul Eisenberg into the enormous Chinese market. Eisenberg’s previous successes were based on the rehabilitation of economies, rather than on activity in already developed countries like the ones in Western Europe. Post-Mao China was a natural destination for Eisenberg. He was willing to invest time and energy there, even at the price of cutting back or even halting minor activities elsewhere that might interrupt his entry into the desirable market that awaited him. After four decades, the international entrepreneur returned to work in the very location where he had started his business career—Asia. Through the good services of the Chinese ambassador in Vienna, Eisenberg made an important breakthrough for his business in China. Yet he insisted that the Chinese government send him a formal invitation and that his connection with Israel be openly known. In 1978 he arrived in Beijing at the invitation of the chairman of a ministry-level organization—the Chinese Council of International Trade. He met with the deputy prime minister and ministers of industry and economy. Against the rising tension between China and Vietnam that developed into a major war, he had to decide between commencing activity in China and continuation of his broad operations in Vietnam. He decided in favor of China. From then on, Eisenberg became a pioneer for Israeli business in the Chinese market. The Eisenberg Group of companies sold Israeli agricultural technology, communications products, and a wide variety of industrial products. The Group also brokered the sale of Israeli potash to Chinese government organizations. The sale was accomplished despite an initial hitch, as the Chinese were used to red potash from China and had to be convinced to purchase the Israeli version, which was white. Finally, Eisenberg succeeded in convincing Sinochem to become the first Chinese company to purchase white potash from the Dead Sea Works. In the late 1970s Eisenberg moved the headquarters for his China operation from Hong Kong to Beijing, where he rented a small office and slept in one of its rooms. He developed close ties with Jiang Zemin, who was then deputy ministry of electronic industries and responsible for military purchasing (he later became mayor of Shanghai). Eisenberg then began sales of Israeli military equipment to the Chinese. Their existing stock • Clandestine Contact—Shaul Eisenberg in China    CHAPTER FIVE 117 was outdated, and Eisenberg paved the way for sales of improved, modern military components and ammunition to the Chinese—such as tank parts and enhanced artillery originally manufactured in the Soviet Union. Eisenberg served as the broker for many other deals and deepened his involvement in China. Some of the deals began without his involvement but were frozen until he entered the picture—one example was the glass factory constructed in Shanghai. In one case, he served as agent between the Chinese and British parties who had reached a standstill in their negotiations for this factory. In 1979 the Chinese had contacted the British 218 company Pilkington Brothers and requested a license to manufacture glass under their exclusive British patent. After some delay and even disengagement between the sides, Eisenberg began to act. He brokered and pushed, and the deal went through as a joint initiative of the Eisenberg Group, the People’s Bank of China, and the Chinese government. Eisenberg was the main catalyst behind the deal. He invested the commission that he earned in a new, related business in Shanghai: a dock for unloading raw materials for manufacturing the glass, and on the opposite side another dock for loading the finished product. 219 Eisenberg’s business in China continued to grow. At the height of activity, Eisenberg’s investment company United Development had over twenty offices in China. The company signed hundreds of import and export contracts and built 250 factories for manufacturing, communications, energy, and agriculture, among other purposes. Other activities in China included bringing various factories to the Middle Kingdom. Eisenberg also established a corporation of large coal purchasers from various countries to fund mines, railroads, and a port in China. Other companies that benefitted from Eisenberg’s brokering skills included Elin, an Austrian company that developed a facility for economical production of electricity from water; a French company that built water treatment factories; another Austrian company that built a factory for synthetic fibers; an Italian company that sold to the Chinese know-how for manufacturing sewing machines and bought raw materials from them; and ECI, a public American company owned by the Israeli Clal concern, which sold to China a machine that dou a. 236 For more on the topic of attempts to exploit China versus the opposite, see Shai, The Fate of British and French Firms—Imperialism Imprisoned. • How to Lose Money in China—The Stories of Four Israeli Companies    CHAPTER SIX 127 industries, created of millions of jobs, acquired technology, and achieved an appreciable improvement in its standard of living and economic capabilities. These elements have acted and are still acting as valuable leverage for expanding the dimensions of China’s international commerce. However, China continues to receive much lower amounts of direct foreign investment than other countries. Many foreign investments are short-term and in limited sectors. One of the difficulties that foreign companies still face is the government model, which largely avoids transparency in the business system and demonstrates a lack of continuity in laws and regulations. The cultural differences between China and other trade partners often lead to misunderstandings. China has yet to implement free market principles completely, or to the extent that Westerners might expect. The economy is planned from above, policed, and centralized. The issue of copyright also has an impact on multinational commerce. The Chinese philosophical view on this topic is different from the accepted view in the West: copyright infringements and illegal copies are a common phenomenon and are not expressly prohibited. The issue of (guānxì), the special relationships sometimes 关系 needed to promote a deal, can be an obstacle as well as a useful tool for leveraging business. In recent years, diplomatic research on China’s foreign relations has become a topic that overlaps with business history, as it offers another prism through which we may analyze additional layers of relationship. Deng Xiaoping’s well-known saying from the 1980s that foreign products must serve China expressed the essence of Chinese thinking on relations with foreign countries. As for joint initiatives, the implication of the leader’s statement called for viewing cooperation as a vehicle for improving Chinese technology, ideally without supplying the required capital from the Chinese side. In this manner the Chinese would provide the land for constructing the factory as well as infrastructure, labor, and raw materials. But the foreign investor would have to supply the technology, most of the equipment, the management strategy, and the active capital—as necessary as oxygen—for the initiative. The foreign investor was also expected to give the funds for advertising the product. Of course, we can explain this approach as deriving from the Chinese people’s deep historical sense that they had been exploited for decades by foreign imperialists and enjoyed only paltry rewards in exchange for the resources and labor that they provided. 128 China and Israel Israeli Businesspeople Try Their Luck in China Shaul Eisenberg’s extensive experience in China paved the way for other Israeli businesspeople, both directly and indirectly—but where Eisenberg met with enormous success, many others experienced only failure. In the 1980s, before the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between Israel and China, Israel established an agency in Hong Kong to encourage Israeli exports to China. This agency had a local representative in Beijing. During that period, the amount of indirect trade between the two countries was very modest—around fifty million dollars per year (aside from sales of defense and military products). After normalization of relations in 1992, and mainly starting in 1999, direct trade between the two countries developed at exponential rates. China became the most important Asian target for Israeli exports. Trade thrived, the number of Israeli companies that operated in China grew, and joint ventures also proliferated. Exports from Israel to China reached over three billion dollars in 2017, not including diamonds, while imports from China totaled around eight billion dollars. The question of the relationship of imports to Israel from China and exports from Israel to China remains a significant issue today. Israel has not been able to increase its exports to China in comparison to imports from that country. In 2004 the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Labor defined China as a target country for advancing Israeli exports. As part of this program, entrepreneurs were given government grants in the fields of information technology, agriculture, water quality, and environmental protection. Bureaus of commerce were opened in Beijing and Shanghai. The breakthrough in relations between the two countries was characterized by new initiatives, such as establishing representative offices for companies, signing agreements, holding conferences and congresses on trade and economy, and sending reciprocal visits of delegations. The governments performed (and still perform today) periodic checks of the trade barriers between the two countries, and joint economic studies are a regular part of the relationship. For example, in 2010 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to establish an inter-office committee to examine ways to increase Israeli exports to China. The workin le the wholesalers complained that the stores were not paying them for the product. Demand was lower 239 Interview with Gad Propper, August 14, 2011. 136 China and Israel than expected, so the retailers refrained from ordering new merchandise and delayed payments. Propper blamed the low sales on his Chinese colleagues’ faulty performance in advertising and marketing the product. The Chinese conducted market surveys and posted advertisements on buses, and the product was sold in the large supermarket chains. But after the initial disappointment at failing to meet the anticipated volume of sales, and due to the accumulated debt, the Chinese partner company refused to inject additional funds into the project beyond its first investment. It transferred only the preliminary payments for the advertising, marketing, and formal permits required. Thus an uneasy situation was created. Additional obstacles appeared when the company tried to take loans from Chinese banks. Still, Osem agreed to continue their investment. In light of the asymmetry that developed, the Chinese agreed to reduce their share of profits in the company from 49 percent to around 40 percent. At this point Propper contacted Nestle, which then owned eleven factories in the Beijing region (this was before the eventual unification between Osem and Nestle). Nestle offered modest assistance, providing consultants for the initiative but not financial means. Nestle was then facing high expenses in China. For example, Nestle established a milk products factory, which then required it by contract to purchase milk in regular quantities from thousands of dairies. Nestle’s manager responsible for marketing and sales on the Chinese market told Propper that he used to wake up in the middle of the night covered in cold sweat—he suffered from a recurring nightmare that he was drowning in rivers of milk. The questions that disturbed him: how could he handle the company’s sales obligations and what would he do with the overabundance of milk? As a last resort, Propper contacted the Osem board of directors in Israel and requested an additional injection of funds. This step was not easy but was expected to produce long-term profits. But because Propper had no firm guarantees that the investment would bear fruit, he received authorization for one-tenth of the sum he had requested—only about half a million dollars. With this the fate of the Osem factory in China was sealed. The factory was moved to Papua New Guinea, where it enjoyed success. Meanwhile, the factory building on Chinese soil remained in Chinese hands. Propper believed that the Chinese managers were as disappointed as he was by the rapid collapse of the joint venture. On a personal level he felt • How to Lose Money in China—The Stories of Four Israeli Companies    CHAPTER SIX 137 enriched by the experience. He had met people who were intelligent and friendly and who were filled with admiration for both Jews and Israelis. He said that his partners always demonstrated willingness to help. Still, he said, they were unskilled at thinking outside of the box, and their managerial style was inflexible and bureaucratic. Possibly, he thought, the Chinese colleagues profited at Osem’s expense. As with the Sano initiative, the Chinese insisted on selecting the local workers that the partnership company would employ, with almost no possibility of using non-Chinese experts who could make valuable contributions. The Israeli companies were also required to provide lodging for the employees and to pay for full social benefits. In addition, they were forced to purchase the means of production from Chinese sources at uncompetitive prices. Propper adopted a philosophical approach to the Chinese experience, both in his attitude toward the distress caused to him and his staff and regarding the losses he incurred. After all, he considered, when it came to knowledge and technology, it was hard to place an exact price tag on the effort that he had invested but that had not borne fruit. He estimated the total loss at several hundred thousand dollars, maybe half a million. The Chinese had also invested in purchasing the technology, he noted. The disappointment of failure distressed him more than the financial loss. Unlike Alex Landesberg, Propper did not feel that the Chinese had tried to cheat him or to get rich at his expense. Rather, he thought that the Chinese side had not made enough of an effort to save the joint venture. In his words, the Chinese “walk straight ahead, like horses wearing blinders—they can’t look right or left.” From the sobering perspective of experience, he related that he would never again get involved in such a venture, even if the situation in China were to change. In his opinion the Chinese mentality remained the same, and further, many companies were still under government control. Lessons Learned Amos Yudan, one of the first Israelis to develop business relations with China, had a definitive opinion on the fates of Sano and Osem there. 240 In the case of Sano, he believed that the main error was in the company’s structure. Bruno Landesberg did not maintain the necessary control over the initiative, especially in the field of marketing inside China. Without 240 Interview with Amos Yudan, July 21, 2004. 138 China and Israel such control, failure was only a matter of time. In addition, the Chinese side did not function as required and was unwilling to invest the necessary resources. Thus, although the products were excellent, sales failed. Osem made a similar mistake: marketing was left to the Chinese side, which did not meet its obligations. The products stood on the grocery store shelves, but the local consumers heard nothing about them. The Chinese assumed that investment in advertising was too expensive, and they completely neglected the marketing aspect. Because Osem itself didn’t undertake that task, the fate of the initiative was sealed. According to Yudan, who as previously noted was well-acquainted with the Chinese arena and the Israeli businesspeople who had sunk into the Chinese quagmire, success would come only to those who thought long-term and who were willing to invest repeatedly in new products or technologies in China. A permanent presence in China was also obligatory and remains so today. Because the activity of a foreign company in China involves high costs, some have thought there was no point in investing in services or a broad range of contacts in this far-off country. In cases where the scope of business activity was not large enough to justify the required investment, the potential investor should have been aware of the limitations in advance. Investment in market research that addresses the unique conditions in China remains vital. Many Israeli companies are looking for a quick fix—they hope to sell without incurring heavy expenses. By contrast, the Chinese are interested in long-term investments looking many years ahead. Yudan’s perspective points to a common trait of many Israelis who deal in trade and business contacts with China: the unwillingness or inability to rely on experts on China (Sinologists). While companies willingly pay exorbitant amounts to attorneys, brokers, and translators, their managers are usually overconfident in their abilities and experience and do not consider the possibility of paying Sinologists or consultants who are acquainted with the Chinese mentality. Yet China is a culture and way of thinking that is very different and difficult to comprehend. Some businessmen who have been burned are willing to admit that they made this mistake. According to Bruno Landesberg, in those days the only relevant China expertise belonged to Shaul Eisenberg. Although Eisenberg was not a Sinologist in the academic sense, he was highly knowledgeable. Du moting their businesses in China. In the second-generation ventures, we identify aspects that appeared in their predecessors, as well as aspects that 140 China and Israel differentiate them from the first-generation efforts. What is the magic formula for business success in China? Does such a recipe in fact exist? 241 It seems that we have not yet found the path to guaranteed success in the Chinese market. Even today success is hardly guaranteed, and many Israeli companies bleed heavily in China. We will now turn our attention to two of these second-generation efforts—DavidShield and Kardan. DavidShield In many ways, DavidShield International Medical Insurance is representative of the attempt of second-generation companies operating in China. Alon Ketzef, DavidShield’s CEO, believes that in order to successfully penetrate this key market, Israeli and other foreign companies must internalize the existence of three models for doing business in China: import of products from China, export of products to China (or models of “doing business with China”), and doing business within China. Foreign companies have wrestled with this concept for many decades. The professional literature also contains lengthy discussions on business with China and within China. In the semi-colonialist period and until the rise of the Communist regime in 1949, foreign activity in China was characterized by political, strategic, and military advantages—what was often called “gunboat diplomacy.” After the end of the Opium War, foreigners could threaten China’s leaders that unsatisfactory treatment would provoke military or semi-military responses. These threats were effective. But of course, after the Communist regime took control of the People’s Republic, this method was no longer appropriate. Further, in the 1950s a transformation took place in this arena. In many ways the foreign companies came under the control of the 242 new regime. The model of business within China became an entirely different game, although many were still not aware of the transformation. 243 In 2008 Ketzef met a senior Chinese-Australian businessman in New York through a major American insurance company. The businessman asserted that he had the ability to implement a program on behalf of China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), in 241 Israeli businesspeople and academic experts on China discussed this issue at a series of conferences held at the Faculty of Business Management at Tel Aviv University in June and July 2013. The Fate of British and French Firms in China. 242 See Shai, 243 Interview with Alon Ketzef, David Shield offices, Netanya, Israel, August 3, 2014. • How to Lose Money in China—The Stories of Four Israeli Companies    CHAPTER SIX 141 which DavidShield would be invited to play a leading role in insurance activity in China. In the framework of the five-year plan, or the “green book,” the Chinese government body would open up a new field: travel insurance abroad. According to the businessman, the initiative would provide health insurance coverage for the masses of Chinese citizens that were expected to begin traveling outside the borders of their country for business, tourism, or with various delegations. From the Chinese viewpoint, travel insurance was vital in case of emergency or crisis to prevent damage to Chinese pride and China’s image abroad. Without proper insurance, sick or injured Chinese travelers were likely to be stranded in the world’s capitals, leaving behind unpaid bills with doctors, clinics, or hospitals in the West. Any Chinese citizen who traveled outside China, especially on official delegations, would be required to purchase appropriate travel insurance. This essential task was delegated to the People’s Insurance Company of China (PICC), the largest government company in China for all types of insurance except for life insurance. Lacking professional knowledge in the area as well as the necessary links with physicians, clinics, hospitals, and global health systems, the Chinese needed a relationship with an international company that had expertise in this field. Before the meeting in New York, PICC had met with the Chinese-Australian businessman, who was also a physician and owned a medical assistance company in Beijing, to engage his services as a go-between and appropriate partner in the West. This man was considered the right fit for the job, as he had participated in writing the NDRC five-year plan and had been responsible for identifying the required contacts. After the meeting in New York, Ketzef traveled to Beijing for more meetings on the subject. He saw it as a unique opportunity: “Elijah the Prophet was knocking on my door, and I had to open it for him,” he said, describing his lucky feeling. On experiencing the wealth and power of China, Ketzef felt that he had arrived in the land of unlimited opportunity. He was treated to unbelievably rich meals, drinks, ceremonies, and honors. He and his colleagues were the honored guests at every event. Ministers, ambassadors, Communist Party representatives, district heads, chamber of commerce officials, and other high-level individuals all wanted to be his close friends. Ministers from Israel who supported the future initiative with excitement also met with hi n companies in China divides into two 249 Interview with Alon Ketzef, August 3, 2014. 250 Avisar, “How Is Kardan Trying to Breach the Wall of China?” • How to Lose Money in China—The Stories of Four Israeli Companies    CHAPTER SIX 147 types: “business with Asian entities and business conducted with other countries.” In his opinion, for non-Asian countries entry into and activity in China are more difficult, as they often adopt a patronizing attitude. Sometimes they initially offer low prices for their products or services to penetrate the market, and then they raise the prices. The Chinese consider this inappropriate behavior. Shlank is well-acquainted with China and has been a regular traveler on the Tel Aviv-Beijing line for over a decade. He noted that Kardan’s status as an Israeli company gave it a relative advantage in its activity in China. 251 “Unlike other countries, where we tend to downplay our Israeli identity, in China we emphasize it. The Chinese love Israel and especially the Jews, mainly because of the common denominator of a long history, going back thousands of years.” As we have emphasized, despite China’s massive potential, Israeli companies do not find it easy to operate there. Kardan succeeded in penetrating China slowly and carefully, and only after it accumulated experience in another developing market—Central and Eastern Europe. “We wanted to duplicate our success in Central and Eastern Europe in a new location,” Greenfeld said of the company’s decision to enter the Chinese market. “China is a place that to a certain extent matches the reality that existed in the central region of Eastern Europe in the early 1990s—a new market that was previously closed to private initiatives, with high demand in the real estate sector. Transformations such as what took place in those countries, which are meant to close gaps of decades against more developed nations, take place only once in centuries. From our point of view, China is the gate to entering Asia. It is leading the entire continent to accelerated economic development. According to research carried out by the OECD, in 2020 the middle class in the Asia-Pacific region will reach 1.7 billion people, and will represent 54 percent of the middle class in the world.” 252 In 2003 Kardan sent Shlank to China to examine the feasibility of activity there. For over a year he investigated the potential market, and finally the company decided that the best way to penetrate the Chinese market was by connecting to a local partner. Accordingly, Kardan connected with Lucky Hope Company, headed by Professor Wilson Yang, a Chinese academic 251 Interview with Alon Shlank, May 7, 2014. For detailed information on Kardan’s activities mainly in China through March 2017, see Kardan N.V., Barnea Report dated March 23 (retrieved November 12, 2017), especially chapter C. 252 Ibid. 148 China and Israel who had moved into the real estate market. In 2005 Kardan leased its first terrain in China. Within six years Kardan’s activity in China had expanded significantly, and it employed six hundred individuals, 98 percent of them Chinese. The company owned a number of housing projects and shopping malls in several cities. In 2007 it began activity in the field of water purification in several Chinese districts. Shlank identified a number of complications and obstacles in promoting business activity in China. He emphasized that the culture is different, and that in China it is vital to understand the other party. Successful local cooperation depends on continuously maintaining mutual interests. When examining a new business, foreign companies must gain awareness of the other party’s considerations and try to understand them. This applies to both private and public entities. The long meals that the two sides share are an important part of the local business activity and help to achieve this goal of mutual understanding. In 2016 Kardan’s real estate initiatives covered a combined area of three million square meters in cities that were second- and third-tier with regard to size. In total, Kardan had invested some 350 million dollars of its own capital, and the total investment in the new businesses in China was expected to reach one billion dollars. The China investment produced yearly IRR (internal revenue return) of at least 15 percent per property. Greenfeld explained that Kardan decided to invest in second- and third-tier cities because the level of risk in the very large first-tier cities such as Beijing and Shanghai was higher due to variable land prices and property values. A possible decline of 10 percent in property value might translate into large sums. In addition, the competition in these locations was against large companies or government companies, which had structural advantages over any private company, making competition with them undesirable. By contrast, markets where no company held a significant advantage were more attractive for investment. In cities with three to ten million inhabitants, the local government viewed Kardan’s activity favorably and invited it to participate in additional initiatives. One of Kardan’s projects is an apartment building in Xi’an, a city with 8.5 million residents. By Chinese standards this is a medium-size project—but by Israeli norms, it is enormous. The project, called “Olympic Garden,” is designed to house twenty-five thousand individuals in 9 t of the country. The problem of soil erosion and continued economic development is leading to widespread loss of agricultural lands. 274 Ibid., 214. 164 China and Israel However, when we compare the two types of forecasts, it seems that the optimistic forecasts have the upper hand. The reason for this is that China has been able to identify problematic global trends and stabilize them. The Olympic Games of 2008 and Expo 2010 aided China in promoting its position and image in the economic and political arenas as well as overcoming problems at home. Additionally, the Chinese government took drastic steps to stabilize and overcome the negative consequences of the economic crisis of 2008. Clearly, the relative weakness of civil society on one hand and the government’s ability to neutralize a majority of public objection on the other enabled the regime to overcome all opposition successfully. Furthermore, during the “Arab Spring“ and the intense socio-economic protests in Israel in the summer of 2011, citizens in the West called on their governments to tighten their supervisory roles, increase budgets, abandon extreme free market models, and adopt economic policies that were more planned and centralized—in other words, to take a more active part in the national economy. Such changes were unnecessary in China, as it was already following these policies. This undoubtedly represents China’s relative advantage. As a socialist state with unique characteristics, it can easily avoid a market economy that is too free. Other countries find it difficult to make this decision unilaterally. The seeds of China’s economic future were sown during Hu Jintao’s term as president of China. In his speech at the Eighteenth Congress of the Communist Party in November 2012, Hu presented an ambitious plan, which included reorganization of the Chinese economy, doubling of the 2010 GNP by 2020, nurturing growth in the field of green energy, and encouraging local consumption. 275 In March 2013 during the conclusion of the National People’s Congress, China’s new leaders Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang presented a plan with even more far-reaching steps—a list of broad reforms expected to be carried out in the state by 2020. These include easing the “one child policy,” which levies sanctions against families that have more than one child; annulment of capital punishment for certain crimes; and closure of the labor camps, which are a constant target of harsh criticism by global human rights organizations. Alongside additional improvements in the fields of human rights and ecology, the publication also mentions economic reforms that will reduce 275 “Full Text of Hu Jintao’s Report at 18th Party Congress,” Xinhua, November 17, 2012: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/special/18cpcnc/2012-11/17/c_131981259.htm • 1992 to 2018: Beijing and Jerusalem—The Last Battle?    CHAPTER SEVEN 165 the government’s involvement in the economy, encourage privatization, and remove limitations on business initiatives and activity, mainly in the real estate field. 276 What is the relevance of these issues for our discussion of China–Israel relations? Apparently, the answer is that Israel’s attitude toward China must continue to evolve if it is to preserve its success and pace of growth in future decades. This is particularly true if the United States continues to undergo political, economic, and even military decline, as Emmanuel Wallerstein and other experts on history and political science have argued. In addition, the American government during Barack Obama’s 277 second term as president adopted a slightly more critical stance toward Israel in the international arena, a deviation from the “special relationship” that had characterized relations between the two countries in the past. The question relating to the Trump administration remains open. It seems, however, that he is adopting what may be described as a “pro-Israel” policy. At any rate, Israel may have to periodically reevaluate its longstanding policy on China and adopt a more assertive and innovative stance. Perhaps Israel should even encourage broader involvement for China in the Israeli– Palestinian problem, as well as in the tense situation between Israel on one side and Syria and Iran on the other. Some argue that in the broader international sphere, Israel–China relations are not so important. China–US relations, the China–India–US triangle, and even China’s status in the UN Security Council—all these are certainly much more important. But we argue that Israel–China relations do have significance, especially with regard to Israel’s strategic and military role in the Middle East equation. China is interested in becoming a full partner in the peace process. We learn this, for example, from the Chinese government’s appointment of a special envoy to the Middle East and from 276 “China Legislators Vote to End Labour Camps,” AFP (retrieved December 24, 2013), http://news.yahoo.com/china-formalise-reforms-one-child-policy-labour-camps033439167.html and Ben Blanchard and Kevin Yao, “China Unveils Boldest Reforms in Reuters, Decades, Shows Xi in Command,” November 15, 2013, http://www.reuters. com/article/2013/11/15/us-china-reform-idUSBRE9AE0BL20131115 For the March 2018 National People’s Congress, see http://www.npc.gov.cn/englishnpc/news/ Ben-Yishai, “Weapons Deal: The First Israeli Phalcon Lands in India,” Ynet, http:// www. ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3721379,00.html, May 25, 2009. • 1992 to 2018: Beijing and Jerusalem—The Last Battle?    CHAPTER SEVEN 175 Even though Israel’s foreign minister at the time expressed regret over the events, the Harpy incident dragged US–Israel relations to a low point unknown since the imprisonment of Jonathan Pollard (a US Navy intelligence analyst who admitted to spying for Israel and was sentenced in 1987 to life in prison) twenty years earlier. Since then clear rules have been set, or rather dictated by the United States regarding transfer of technology to China. The Americans also placed limits on Israeli exports to China, particularly for dual use components, which can be used for both military and civilian purposes. According to Chinese sources, these new rules have delayed and seriously damaged exports to China because the Americans required that all products be checked at least twice before they are sent to China. Despite attempts to satisfy both sides, Israel was unable to ensure that it could fully honor its commitments and the contracts it had signed with China. Even worse, China indicated that it would levy sanctions against Israeli companies not just inside China but in Hong Kong as well. China’s vice premier visited Israel in late December 2004 along with Tang Jiaxuan, former minister of foreign affairs, to deliver this harsh message. Israel feared that its exports would 291 suffer a severe blow both to China and to other locations, as other countries might feel insecurity due to Israeli capitulation to American dictates and draw their own conclusions. Improvement of relations between China and Israel did not prevent Beijing from continuing to produce weapons for countries such as Iran that threatened Israel. This practice still continues today. In many ways and for a long time, China even exploited the continuous conflicts among the Gulf States. After the Second Lebanon War, China took on a different role in the Middle East. It made significant advancements in the level of its military technology. Israel suspected that China might sell advanced weapons to several organizations. This was demonstrated at the beginning of the Second Lebanon War on July 14, 2006, when Hezbollah shot a missile 292 that hit an Israeli Navy boat and killed four IDF soldiers. The missile shot was a C-802 Silkworm, which was produced in China and sold to Iran a decade earlier. Possibly, Hezbollah shot the missile after receiving training from Iranian soldiers. 291 China’s Vice Premier: Return the Drones, Or Else We’ll Start Hurting Israeli Companies Operating in China,” Tik Debka, December 26, 2004. 292 Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Terrorism. July 15, 2006. 176 China and Israel Concerns about China’s technological and military progress continued to disturb many and were expressed at a conference on military history held in Sofia, Bulgaria in 2012. The director of the Chinese association of military history, General Ren Haiquan, noted that the possessor of more advanced technology may not necessarily become the winner. In keeping with Mao’s philosophy, he emphasized that sometimes the side that boasts the highest morale among soldiers and society will win despite being at a technological disadvantage. For example, while the Japanese and the Guomindang held many technological advantages over the Chinese Communists, the Communists won the battle. Thus technology is not necessarily the most important factor. The fighters must adapt their existing technology to the manner of waging the war—in other words, tactics and strategy. He also stated that in pivotal moments during their war against China, the Japanese became objects of ridicule, as did the UN forces under McArthur. Technology may offer a chance at victory, but the human element is the deciding factor. The general’s theory was based on the concept of the “people’s war”: in the history of nations, farmers and slaves have often been able to overcome enemies that were physically stronger. The general cited Mao’s most famous motto: “When the enemy attacks, we retreat. When he hesitates, we wait, and when he retreats, we attack.” The two revolutionary armies, the New Fourth Army and the Eighth Route Army, followed this approach, but they were also able to fight frontally in the traditional manner when necessary and when the conditions were ripe. This flexibility compensated for their lack of advanced equipment and technology. The more innovative the technology, the more the army is required to adapt its tactics and strategy to the new reality. This was the case in Korea, when Chinese forces operated on the peninsula at night just as they would in a daytime frontal battle. According to the general, in the future the Chinese army will be victorious again, even if its technology is inferior to the enemy, as long as it upholds the characteristics of the “people’s war.” But it seems that times have changed. After all, since 1964 China has possessed nuclear capabilities, and since the 1980s, following the Open Door Policy, China boasts impressive financial resources that are constantly improving. China has evolved to the point where it can carve its own path both technologically and militarily. This is certainly true when we examine China’s capabilities at the end of the second decade of the present century. Fueled by decades of rapid economic growth and a desire to ensure • 1992 to 2018: Beijing and Jerusalem—The Last Battle?    CHAPTER SEVEN 177 its security interests, China has embarked on a large-scale modernization of its military. Extensive military reforms have been instituted aimed at streamlining command structures and improving Chinese military strength. China now boasts its second aircraft carrier (inaugurated in April 2017), a credible fleet of both diesel and nuclear missile submarines, one of the largest air forces in the world, and over fifty intercontinental ballistic missiles. China has successfully translated its impressive economic leverage into military power on a global scale. Despite All, a Relationship Parallel to the slowdown and retreat in China–Israel relations, there were some successes: the Israeli Philharmonic visited Beijing in 1995, and the Israel Museum of Jerusalem displayed an exhibit on traditional China for four months in 2001. The original displays were brought over from China and were unprecedented in scope. Simultaneously, Israel hosted a festival of Chinese opera and performances of acrobatics and dance as well as a variety of traditional Chinese works of art. In the fall of 2000, five cities in China were scheduled to host an exhibit on the life of Albert Einstein. However, this exhibit was cancelled after the Chinese Ministry of Culture insisted on removing three facts about the famous physicist’s life from the captions: first, that he was a Jew; second, that he supported the establishment of a Jewish state; and third, that David Ben Gurion had invited him to serve as the State of Israel’s second president. Due to the rising tension in Israel’s relations with the Arab world, China had no desire to be exposed to criticism for supporting an exhibit that highlighted Einstein’s connections with the Jewish state. Despite tensions, China and Israel remained committed to technological cooperation. Around the time of the cancellation of the Phalcon deal and the incident with the Einstein exhibit, China signed an agreement similar in value to the Phalcon deal to purchase the Israeli-manufactured satellites HK1 and HK2. These were intended for broadcasting the Olympic Games that took place in Beijing in 2008. This agreement was an example of the line that Beijing drew between economic and diplomatic issues. Understanding this policy and mentality of China can aid in comprehending the contrasts that exist in bilateral relations: China may voice har Strategy, “SPIG Nets Haifa Concession,” March 25, 2015. See also: Gideon Elazar, “China in the Red Sea,” BESA, Bar-Ilan University, August 23, 2017. 184 China and Israel and cooperation between Eurasian countries, primarily aiming to expand China’s role in global affairs and create a China-centered trading network. As of 2018 the focus of attention has been infrastructure investments such as railways, highways, and the power grid. As part of this initiative, China is slowly establishing what the Americans call “A String of Pearls.” This refers to the network of Chinese military and commercial stations or strongholds along the maritime Silk Road from the Chinese mainland to Port Sudan and further up the Red Sea. The sea lanes run through several major maritime straits, such as the Strait of Mandeb, the Strait of Malacca, the Strait of Hormuz, Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka (recently leased to China for ninety-nine years) as well as other strategic maritime locations in Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Maldives, and Somalia. Furthermore, in the summer of 2017 the Chinese established their first ever military base outside of the Asia-Pacific region, in Djibouti, thus expanding its influence in regions near Israel. On the whole, China is investing in Israel’s high-tech, agriculture, food, water, med-tech, and biotech sectors. In 2015 its total investments in Israel reached more than half a billion dollars. It is involved in various innovative enterprises. Also, new Israeli tech incubators in China, new investments, joint ventures, trade conferences, and delegations are announced on an almost daily basis. In 2015 the Ministry of Finance decided to open Israel’s cheese import industry to competition by issuing the necessary authorizations, shattering the foundations of Israel’s dairy monopoly. Tnuva filed suit against a rival importer whose packaging recalled the design for Tnuva’s Emek cheese package. Apparently, instead of trying to compete, the monopoly preferred to try to push the competitor out of the market. Tnuva managers have committed to supplying substantial returns to their Chinese investors. Undoubtedly this point adds a new thread to the complex fabric discussed above. To put it simply, today Israeli managers have obligations toward their new owners—the Chinese. The government seems unlikely to bend over backwards to continue pressuring the monopoly. This distinction illustrates the consequences of placing Tnuva into foreign hands. In the past the government could navigate economic matters based on official directives or economic dictates, for better or for worse. From now on, however, decision-makers in Israel will have their hands tied by complex diplomatic and political considerations. This is particularly true when the company involved is no longer an international corporation managed by • 1992 to 2018: Beijing and Jerusalem—The Last Battle?    CHAPTER SEVEN 185 a diverse group of investors led by a British company, but rather a very national company, even nationalist, under the control of the Chinese government and the Communist Party. 307 As we recall, in 2011 Prime Minister Netanyahu was invited with great ceremony to China, but the visit did not take place in 2012. In late 2012 the Chinese began to demonstrate their agreement with the new European diplomacy, which was characterized by increasing pressure on the Netanyahu government in the wake of expansion of settlements and blatant disregard for the protests of international and national organizations. Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza in November 2012 exacerbated the situation. Beijing denounced Israel in harsh condemnatory tones. Once again the pendulum of the relationship swung back in the other direction, and a bitter wind blew from Beijing in its policy toward Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu finally made his visit to China in early May 2013, and a certain change was evident in the tenor of relations. Netanyahu arrived in Shanghai on May 6 and then traveled to the capital. The importance of the visit was that it actually took place, and not in its results, which were marginal. This was the first visit by an Israeli prime minister since Ehud Olmert’s trip in 2007. The invitation from the Chinese was made over a year earlier, but at that time the visit was postponed due to Netanyahu’s participation in the conference of Jewish Federations in the United States. The Chinese were offended by this preference and thus delayed sending a new invitation. Some noted that another difficulty arose on the way to implementing the visit. The Chinese government threatened to cancel the invitation if 308 the Israeli government proceeded with its intention to present documents and testimony harmful to China in a US legal case. An Israeli security establishment representative was supposed to testify in a New York federal court against the Bank of China for aiding in money laundering activities for Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which were defined as terror organizations by the United States and Israel. In 2005 Bank of China in Guangzhou was accused of maintaining a live channel for transferring funds from Syria to Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists in Gaza. In the sophisticated operation, clothes and toys manufactured in China were sent to Gaza, but instead of being donated to preschools they were sold in public auctions. The profits 307 Meirav Arlozorov, “The Chinese Will Profit: Israel’s Government Fortifies Tnuva’s The Marker, Monopoly Forever,” April 1, 2015. Yediot Aharonot, 308 Nachum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer, “Commentary,” July 12, 2013. 186 China and Israel were transferred to the two terror organizations and designated for military purposes—in short, money laundering through commerce. The Chinese demanded that Netanyahu prevent the testimony, which interrupted the trial and damaged the global battle against terror and its funding. The Chinese government thus succeeded in dissuading Israel’s government from taking a significant step to help block the money pipeline that was nourishing terror. In late July 2013, protocols revealed in the New York court documented regular meetings for security coordination between China and Israel in which the Israeli representatives warned about money laundering for Islamic Jihad through Bank of China. In the coming months and into 2014, additional details were revealed in the case, and it became clear that China had tried to hide the existence of these discussions. The affair was discovered following an investigation carried out in the death of Daniel Waltz, a Jewish-American youth who was murdered in a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv in 2006. The victim’s family filed a lawsuit against Bank of China, arguing that the Chinese had helped fund the suicide terrorist. 309 According to documents of the Israel Security Agency (Shabak) that were revealed in late 2013, money laundering for Hamas in China continued for years after the Bank of China affair, and apparently it continued for a while. 310 When Netanyahu’s visit finally took place, the timing was not ideal for potential media attention. At the time the headlines in Israel were reporting the IDF’s air attacks against weapons caches in Syria. Also on the local agenda was the controversial budget implemented by Yair Lapid, the new finance minister. Before Netanyahu left Israel, the director of IDF military intelligence, Major General Aviv Kochavi, held secret talks in Beijing with his Chinese colleagues to discuss the Iranian nuclear program and the civil war in Syria. Kochavi presented current intelligence on the Iranians’ nuclear progress and warned against the dangers of sending advanced weapons, some made in China, to Syria, as these were likely to wind up in Hezbollah hands. About ten days later, Netanyahu traveled to China. 311 309 See, for example, Harel Zota, “The Connection between the Biggest Bank in China and the Terror Attack in Tel Aviv.” 310 “Shin Bet Probe Reveals Scope of Hamas Money Laundering Through Chinese Banks” Ha’Aretz, September 29, 2013. 311 Ravid, “Reaching Iran through China.” • 1992 to 2018: Beijing and Jerusalem—The Last Battle?    CHAPTER SEVEN 187 As researcher Sam Chester noted, Netanyahu arrived just several 312 days after the visit of Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), chairman of the Palestinian Authority. The Chinese had planned this timing with brilliant consideration for the challenging diplomatic dilemmas involved. Now they were holding the rope at both ends—on one hand they ascribed great importance to the Israeli leader’s visit, while on the other they adeptly appeased public opinion in the Arab-Palestinian world, as Abbas arrived in Beijing before Netanyahu. Abbas’ visit was defined as an official state visit while Netanyahu’s was defined as “formal.” Some thought that the combination of visits was designed to present China as involved in the political process in the Middle East no less than in the international diplomatic arena. But the question was whether Beijing was ready to take on the role of mediator in full. In the meantime it seemed that China aspired to gain as much as possible from Israel (it had very little to gain from the Palestinian Authority). Perhaps Beijing was searching for an easy path to the hearts of the Arab states, who severely criticized China’s support of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. Possibly, Abbas’ visit was a diplomatic fig leaf for Netanyahu’s more important visit, which was accompanied by dozens of businessmen and was covered more widely in the Chinese press. Netanyahu also received special honors not granted to every foreign leader, such as an invitation to speak at the main school of the Communist Party, the institution that trains China’s future leaders. Freshly inaugurated President Xi Jinping presented to Abu Mazen his “four-point program” for solving the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. The program included support for the two states plan; the requirement that Israel return to the 1967 borders; the complete cessation of building in the settlements; and adoption of the general principle of “land for peace.” In parallel, Xi also mentioned that Israel’s honor must be upheld, and that Israel had a right to exist and a legitimate right to maintain its security. Both Premier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping mentioned to Netanyahu the need to create appropriate conditions for reestablishing the Israeli–Palestinian negotiations. Their argument was that solving this conflict was the key to peace in the entire Middle East. But the discussions with the Israeli prime minister touched only lightly on political affairs. Instead, China was interested in strategic dialogue with Israel, in commerce bet t Peres on state visit to China,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs—Press Room, South China Morning Post and China Daily, 8; Beijing, April 9, 2014. 190 China and Israel achievements; Israel has know-how and expertise in all high-tech fields,” he stated. Aside from high-tech, he also mentioned agriculture, water, global transportation, and health. Netanyahu emphasized the importance of maintaining a decisive, firm position against Iranian nuclear power. Iran must not be permitted to manufacture nuclear weapons, he said, and it must follow the decisions of the UN Security Council on this issue. Iran must stop uranium enrichment, dismantle the centrifuges, destroy its enriched uranium reserves, and dismantle the heavy water reactor in Arak so that it will not be able to produce plutonium. The Chinese minister addressed bilateral agreements that called for the establishment of a task force for amplifying economic growth. 319 The Chinese minister’s visit made very modest waves in the Israeli media—unlike the attention paid to each and every visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry. Apparently, the Israelis seem to be less interested in the visits by Chinese high officials to the Holy Land than in visits by their American or European counterparts. At the end of March 2016, Liu Yandong, vice premier of China, visited Israel with an impressive delegation to lay the foundation for a Free Trade Agreement. This would obviate entry visas for Israeli and Chinese citizens traveling between the two countries. According to estimates, this agreement could increase the number of Chinese tourists who visit Israel (now at eighty thousand) and would more than double the number of Israelis visiting China (now at seventy thousand). Hainan Airlines has inaugurated a direct service from Tel Aviv to Beijing, as has Cathay Pacific, with flight rates dropping steadily. The inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2017 seems to have heralded a quiet yet substantial transformation in the international arena. His controversial statements on many topics both before and after the official ceremony cannot leave Jerusalem and Beijing indifferent. After all, Sino–Israeli relations are an integral part of a sophisticated and complex triangle in which Washington plays a major role. Yahoo News, 319 December 18, 2013. The following parts, covering Netanyahu’s second visit to China and the relations through the end of 2017 are based, for example, on: https://besacenter.org/perspectives-papers/netanyahus-china-visit, https://www. reuters.com/article/us-israel-china-business/as-part-of-asia-pivot-netanyahupushes-israeli-hi-tech-in-china-idUSKBN16R1AV, https://www.jta.org/2017/03/22/ (retrieved December 7, 2017), and INSS report March 29, 2017. • 1992 to 2018: Beijing and Jerusalem—The Last Battle?    CHAPTER SEVEN 191 Netanyahu’s second visit to China as prime minister of Israel in March 2017 was momentous, even historic. Netanyahu lauded the comprehensive innovation partnership between China and Israel and praised China’s capabilities, its position on the world stage, and in history. He noted Israel’s potential as a junior yet perfect partner for China in the development of technologies that “change the way we live, how long we live, how healthy we live, the water we drink, the food we eat and the milk that we drink— affecting every area.” He hoped that China would approve Israel’s request to be exempt from a new Chinese policy barring some investments in foreign countries. Indeed, just prior to Netanyahu’s visit, in a bid to boost its domestic economy, Beijing decided to restrict Chinese capital spent abroad, causing much distress among businessmen worldwide. China expressed obvious interest in Israeli technology while Israel needed Chinese capital for its much-lauded innovation. Also, Israel expected China to reduce its regulatory burdens so that its technology would reach the Chinese market more easily. Once a country like China has established basic infrastructure— roads, utilities, and factories—the only way to sustain growth is by consistently adding value to its products and services. Beyond a certain point, the only way to do this is with the addition of technology. During his visit Netanyahu emphasized that Israeli technology had the potential to improve the lives of the 1.3 billion people in China dramatically. He gave the example of China’s one hundred million cars, which cause traffic jams, accidents, and heavy pollution. All these problems could be dramatically improved with new technology originating from Israel. Netanyahu referred to Mobileye, a Jerusalem-based company that was recently bought by computer chip giant Intel for the staggering amount of fifteen billion dollars, and Waze, a crowd-sourced navigation cellphone application that was acquired by Google in 2013. In his view China was a classic example, perhaps the preeminent one, of a country that could apply these technologies to benefit its citizens, resulting in fewer road accidents and less pollution. In addition, drivers would reach their destinations more quickly, avoiding the exorbitant expenses of running cars that are often idle. The Israeli delegates with Netanyahu also promoted digital health technologies. For example, the medical records of all Chinese citizens could be computerized so that whenever people visit different hospitals, they would not have to go thr peace process. Fatah denounced in principle violence, while Hamas (who controlled Gaza since 2006) continued to hold tight to the resistance option. 196 China and Israel China has and still supports international efforts to end Israel’s blockade to Gaza. Yet on the whole, in the post-Arab Spring (2010 to 2013) world, the Palestinian situation seemed quite bleak, and Israel’s position vis-à-vis China became stronger and more solid. It was conceived as a rock-hard, stable, and reliable island in the stormy Middle East. In December 2017 China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi reiterated China’s willingness to bring Israeli and Palestinian representatives together as soon as possible. The offer came just a month after China’s special envoy on Middle East affairs, Gong Xiaosheng, concluded a visit to Israel and Palestine and said both parties welcomed China’s involvement in the peace talks and were ready to work with China to find a solution. China had proposed a trilateral dialogue with Palestine and Israel back in July, following separate visits by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Beijing. At times it seems that China is trying to fill the vacuum caused by President Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, reversing decades of careful American diplomatic policy. It remains to be seen whether the United States has essentially disqualified itself from its leadership role in the quest for Middle East peace and will allow China, as President Xi Jinping put it at the 19th Party Congress in October, to move closer to the center of the stage. As in the rest of the world, the Chinese government was alert to the dangers of terror when in September 2000, the Second Intifada (a Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza) erupted in Israel. And despite the Chinese government’s tendency to favor the Palestinians, it could hardly ignore the parallel between the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and the clashes between the ethnic Han Chinese and the Uyghurs, an ethnic Muslim group living in Xinjiang Province. 320 In early July 2009, violent clashes had broken out among the Uyghurs, the Han Chinese, and police forces in Ürümqi, the capital of Xinjiang, causing two hundred deaths and the wounding of 180. Following the clashes, the Chinese government imposed a curfew on the province and blocked access to the internet and the cellular network. 320 The section on China and the Palestinians is based on various sources such as Yitzhak Shichor, The Middle East in China’s Foreign Policy 1949–1977 (London, 1979) and China and the Middle East Since World War II, Muhamad S. Olimat, chapter 10 (London, 2014). For more on Xinjiang, see for example, Mackerras, “Xinjiang and the War against Terrorism.” • China, Israel, and Other Spheres    CHAPTER EIGHT 197 Even before the outbreak of this violence, some Palestinian circles made statements in which they referred to Xinjiang as “occupied territory.” But the use of this term was hardly helpful to the Palestinian cause— if anything, it was likely to lead to serious problems with the Chinese. If China continued to criticize Israel and support self-determination for the Palestinians and even for Arab Israelis, Palestinian identification with the Uyghur minority could prove to be a double-edged sword. China considered Xinjiang and also Tibet to be problematic, rebellious regions that aspired to disengage from the motherland. If China amplified its critique of Israel for refusing to enable Palestinian independence, what would prevent other countries from criticizing China for similar behavior toward the Uyghur and Tibetan minorities within its territory? On July 25, 2006, during the Second Lebanon War, a Chinese UN officer named Du Zhaoyu and three UN observers from Austria, Finland, and Canada were killed when an Israeli shell hit their bunker. China condemned the incident and demanded that Israel carry out a comprehensive investigation and apologize to the Chinese government and the victims’ families. The Chinese ambassador to the UN called for a ceasefire in Lebanon and demanded that the UN denounce Israel’s actions there and carry out its own investigation of the incident. The United States vetoed both demands, thus blocking an anti-Israel process. Still, in early 2006 China seemed to moderate its stance on this issue, following a Hamas victory in elections for the Palestinian Authority and increasing concern in China regarding Iran’s mounting nuclear power. Although China demonstrated sympathy for Hamas leaders and the Iranian leadership, it simultaneously showed signs of willingness to be more involved in the Israel–Arab–Palestine conflict and even sent observers to Lebanon. In 2007 China held talks with Iran regarding the situation in Lebanon. Its membership in the UN Security Council enabled it to take on a significant role in problematic global arenas—including the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. Another example of China’s policy in the Middle East could be seen during the visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi to Israel in April 2009, where he was met by a protest of Falun Gong practitioners. In dis321 with several Israe -looks-beyond-the-middle-east-for-its-crude-oil-fix_48954.htm (retrieved December 14, 2017). 327 Pentland, “Did the US Invade Iraq to Contain China?” 200 China and Israel The “Arab Spring,” the wave of social protests that broke out in many Arab states in late 2010 and continued until 2013, borrowed its name from the collapse of old European regimes in 1848 known as the “Spring of Nations.” Revolutions began in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, and Yemen, making waves in other states in the region. Beijing suffered losses from the collapse of their initiatives in many of these states. In Libya, for example, following the fall of Muammar Khaddafi, China lost some twenty billion dollars. Official China was embarrassed. It preferred stability in the Arab world, even if this did not fit the profile of a regime that was representative, democratic, or even semi-democratic. The fall of established leaders with whom China had enjoyed a positive, strong relationship posed challenging dilemmas to Beijing policy-makers. The continued revolution in Syria, for example, was diplomatically destructive to China. China assisted by sending military and civilian aid, but developments on that front disappointed Beijing, especially in light of the appearance of Islamist fighters from Xinjiang (east Turkistan) on the side of the rebels. 328 Instability in the Middle East did not prevent China from pressuring Israel and voicing criticism against it at the encouragement of Arab states. The Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Shanghai Jiao Tong University developed a new model for more assertive Chinese diplomatic involvement in the Middle East and North Africa, according to which China will adopt a proactive diplomatic stance. Beijing seems to gradually be exchanging the policy of non-involvement for a strategy that contributes to development and stability in these regions, both through political and business channels as well as with the assistance of non-government organizations. Thus in February 2012, a delegation of thirty Chinese businesspeople and academics visited Israel and the Palestinian Authority, aiming to gather information and identify targets for investment and development. 329 The civil war in Syria from 2012 to date has created a new dilemma for policy-makers in Beijing. On one hand, China continues its obligation to Assad’s regime. On the other, the seemingly endless state of war, with its cruel acts of violence toward innocent civilians, no longer permits China to maintain an apathetic, indifferent policy. 328 For more on this issue, see Evron, “Patterns of Chinese Involvement in the Middle East”; Wu Sike, “The Upheaval in West Asia and North Africa,” and Ynet, Yaron Friedman, December 3, 2017 (retrieved December 14, 2017). 329 Witte, “A Quiet Transformation.” • China, Israel, and Other Spheres    CHAPTER EIGHT 201 Discussions I held at the China Institute of International Studies revealed that both China and Israel are facing an uneasy crossroads with regard to Syria. Despite the uncomfortable tenor of the situation, both would prefer that Assad’s regime remain in power to promise stability and quiet in the region. In September 2013 the US government refrained from attacking Syria by sea even after Syria used chemical weapons against the rebel forces, and this served to strengthen Russia’s position in the Middle East and beyond. Suddenly it seemed that the unipolar system led by Washington had disappeared, replaced by the bipolar model of the Cold War—the United States versus Russia. Understandably, then, US Secretary of State John Kerry was quick to beg China to abandon its passive stance and adopt a constructive, positive role in decisions regarding the Syrian crisis. If the international community preferred a diplomatic solution even against the will of President Obama, Washington preferred that China take on a significant role in the newly evolving arrangement. 330 Aside from these issues, some see China as an active and motivated candidate to replace the United States in involvement in the Middle East. Commerce between China and Middle Eastern countries, including Israel, is accelerated as opposed to American trade with countries in this region. Because Chinese interest in this region is still deeply interconnected with Iranian oil, greater cooperation between China and the United States could take place. Indeed, China is largely dependent on American military protection of oil shipments from the region. Still, it refuses to conform to the US position regarding foreign policy in the region in general, and toward Iran in particular. 331 Iran–China–Israel In addition to the United States, Russia, France, Germany, and Great Britain, China is one of the P5+1 states that holds discussions with Iran. The value of trade transactions between Iran and China from January to August 2017 reached $24.17 billion, showing a 24 percent increase compared to the same period in 2016. Between January and October of 2017, China’s commodity turnover with Iran was $30.5 billion—22 percent higher 330 French News Agency, as cited in Y er against Nuclear Iran”: AFP, http:// news.yahoo.com/netanyahu-warns-chinese-foreign-minister-against-nucleariran-202605078.html, December 18, 2013. • China, Israel, and Other Spheres    CHAPTER EIGHT 203 clarified that as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China was expected to respond to Iran’s efforts to arm itself with nuclear weapons. He expressed his appreciation for China’s vote on Security Council Resolution 1737 of December 2006, which had levied sanctions against Iran. Still, he emphasized that from the Israeli viewpoint this step was insufficient. Israel expected broader cooperation from China regarding sanctions against Iran. In October 2007 Israeli Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni met with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jibao and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Beijing and pressed them to assist in pushing a UN decision on sanctions against Iran. The Chinese reaction was diplomatic and polite. They praised the agricultural assistance that Israel was giving to Chinese farms, but they did not commit to any change in their policy toward Iran. Thus despite the impression that Olmert and Livni attempted to create, the Chinese did not deviate from their usual stance: the Iranian nuclear program must be stopped, but the actions taken should be part of what they called a “balanced policy.” Olmert’s visit to China had been preceded by a visit from Ali Larijani, secretary of the Supreme Council for National Security in Iran and the chief negotiator on the nuclear issue. During his visit the Iranian representative warned that if Iran felt threatened, it was liable to develop a nuclear program not only for civilian purposes, but for military use as well. Following Olmert’s and Livni’s visits, China continued to maintain a delicate balance in its diplomatic approach. It refused (and still refuses) to ignore the major economic dimension of its relations with Iran. China’s stance did not change even after Netanyahu’s visit there in May 2013. Apparently, on this issue China has adopted a long-term strategic policy based on its fundamentally pragmatic approach to this topic. In June 2014 Sun Jiazheng, a member of China’s political advisory committee and president of the NGO system, replied to Efraim Halevi’s question of whether there was any chance that China might block Iran’s nuclear program, as the Israeli government hoped. Jiazheng insisted that his government had no influence on Iran, contrary to what Westerners might think. He also asserted that China’s influence on North Korea was also quite restricted. 339 Beyond pointing to the confines of China’s power, these statements seemed to indicate its limited willingness to brake nuclear development in the two rogue states. 339 Interview with Efraim Halevi, June 15, 2015. 204 China and Israel Undoubtedly this issue is interwoven with the fact that 60 percent of the oil imported to China passes through the Hormuz Straits, which are under Iranian control. Although China can purchase the oil it needs from other sources in a crisis, such as Saudi Arabia, it always prefers to rely on the broadest possible range of suppliers. For its part, Iran purchases significant quantities of Chinese products, an important consideration when calculating the Chinese balance of trade. In general, we must recall that Iran has become a nuclear threshold nation with the assistance of China, which supplies it not only technology and uranium but also an international umbrella that prevents punishment by organizations in which China is a member. China’s peacemaking “har340 policy in the global arena means that it avoids any possible conflict with Iran. China believes that this policy is efficient, and it hopes to reach diplomatic arrangements gradually and through mutual understanding. Decision-makers within Israel are perhaps gradually internalizing this reality, which means they will not be able to convince China to adopt an approach that conforms to their desires. China has interests that do not overlap with the United States and Israel—it has its own unique priorities. 341 Farhad Ibrahimov has claimed that the Americans were not happy to observe the developing relations between Iran and China. Under Obama they “tried to improve their relations with the Iranians by lifting some of their sanctions. The Iranians responded with certain concessions on their nuclear program, but they were pragmatic enough not to stop the program at all. They kept the examples of Iraq and Libya in mind and did not trust the Americans.” In January 2016 the United States lifted some of the anti-Iranian sanctions. However, President Trump called Obama’s agreements shameful and renewed the US sanctions policy against Iran. He accused Iran of breaking its obligations concerning its nuclear program and supporting terrorists and extremists in the Middle East. Once again the Iranians concluded that they could not trust the Americans. Both China and Iran believe that the world should not be unipolar. China gives Iran strategic priority in the Middle East and will continue to strengthen its ties 340 Shiffer, “Former Mossad Chief.” 341 For more on Iran’s attitude toward Muslims in China, see “Iran Voices Support for Rights of Chinese Muslims: ‘Xinjiang Incidents Had Nothing to Do with Religion,’” Press TV Online, July 9, 2009. See also: “China-Iran Foreign Relations,” Mehr News Agency, July 23, 2009. https://eadaily.com/en/news/2017/12/06/iran-china-pragmaticpartnership-despite-us-sanctions (Farhad Ibrahimov for EADaily). • China, Israel, and Other Spheres    CHAPTER EIGHT 205 with that country. Iran considers China a great power that wields a weighty opinion on global issues, particularly Syria. Like Iran, China supports the Bashar al-Assad regime. One of the key projects of Iranian–Chinese cooperation is the Belt and Road Initiative. In 2014 China and Iran signed a military cooperation agreement and soon after that they agreed to cooperate in combating terrorism. In this respect, Israel finds itself quite alienated from these two countries. China’s Relations with North Korea China aspires to create stability and quiet in the region. It has no desire for a nuclear Korea that will distract its military attention from the issue of Taiwan and the China Sea, which are more important to it. China does not support the North Korean policy of “walking on the edge” and its provocative behavior (especially under the regime of the young Kim Jong-un). It continues to play the role of mediator between the West and North Korea. From Israel’s viewpoint the question is whether China will be able to prevent military and strategic exports from North Korea to Syria and Iran. Will assisting Pyongyang grant Beijing the diplomatic leverage to serve as a moderating influence? Clearly, as in the past, Beijing cannot adopt a harsh stance toward North Korea—the two regimes have been connected at the umbilical cord for over six decades. China also fears that a severe crisis or dissolution of the North Korean regime will lead many Koreans to flee from the North into Chinese-governed territory. According to current estimates, between one hundred and three hundred thousand North Koreans have already entered China illegally. China wants to prevent this extreme scenario. This issue stands in contrast to the American demand for “complete, irreversible, and verifiable dismantling” of the nuclear reactors in Korea. Israel’s possibilities on the China–Korea–US question are negligible. Can it be argued that Jerusalem erred in 1992 when it adopted the viewpoint of the Defense Ministry and the Mossad (against the position of the Foreign Ministry) and refused a momentary North Korean initiative for limited cooperation? In April 2013 the situation on the Korean 342 Peninsula intensified. North Korea made declarations of war and even sev342 See Efraim Halevi, Man in the Shade, 55–57, and interview with him, June 15, 2015 and Israel Journal of Foreign Aron Shai, “North Korea and Israel: A Missed Opportunity”? Affa 5. 349 Yegar, The Long Journey to Asia, 287–288; author’s interview with Mordechai Arbel on the votes of the Israeli delegation to the UN, June 2013. • China, Israel, and Other Spheres    CHAPTER EIGHT 209 Taiwan’s expense. The Chinese leadership expressed appreciation for this process. Subsequently, Israel made the decision to open the Israeli consulate general in Hong Kong. 350 Like many other countries, Taiwan shaped its policy toward Israel based on Israel’s stance toward Beijing and on its own position toward the Arab states. It did not even consider the possibility of establishing true diplomatic relations with Israel. In most of its votes in the UN Taiwan adopted a pro-Arab stance, and due to its dependence on the Gulf Emirates for its oil supply, it avoided taking positive steps toward Israel. This policy was 351 mostly dictated by its close ties with Saudi Arabia. In the late 1970s the president of Taiwan made a joint declaration with Prince Fahd in which they both admonished Israel; called for immediate withdrawal from the occupied territories, including Jerusalem; and demanded that it grant independence and the right to self-determination to the Palestinian population. 352 Still, over the years both sides managed to preserve shared interests, mainly economic, that have ensured the existence of informal ties. These interests primarily included mutual commercial ties, and on Taiwan’s side learning about and purchasing Israeli-developed technologies. In the 1960s Taiwanese officials had contact with representatives of the Israeli security establishment. Taiwan was especially interested in Israeli know-how in the field of nuclear research. Israel refused to cooperate on the nuclear issue but did not object to continued contacts in other fields of security and science. For example, in the late 1960s representatives of the Taiwan ministry of the economy visited Israel; a Taiwanese delegation came for training at the Weizmann Institute; and an informal delegation arrived to tour scientific institutions, defense establishment installations, and several factories. These groups mainly demonstrated interest in research in Israel and the possibility of knowledge exchange or purchasing knowledge from Israel. The central figure responsible for these contacts with Taiwan was the then chairman of Israel’s atomic energy committee, Professor Ernst David Bergmann. Bergmann called for Israel to develop ties with Taiwan, whose importance was growing. This goal gained significance following Israel’s impression that Taiwan viewed it as a path to liberating itself from dependence on the United States for know-how and defense. 353 350 Merhav, “Dream of the Red Palaces,” 567. The Long Journey to Asia, 351 Yegar, 288–289. 352 Goldstein, “The Republic of China and Israel,” 18–19. The Long Journey to Asia, 353 Yegar, 288–289. 210 China and Israel Despite this goodwill and the visiting delegations, the trend was not completely friendly, at least not with regard to open trade. Israeli companies were not awarded tenders in Taiwan, and the Taiwan Foreign Ministry prohibited importing Israeli goods. Israeli delegations that went to Taiwan in the late 1960s also faced defeat. For example, a meeting of the director of the Asian department in the Israel Foreign Ministry with the Taiwan ambassador to Tokyo was cancelled at the last minute by Taiwan, and an Israeli economic delegation that visited Taiwan was unable to meet with Taiwan Foreign Ministry officials regarding the trade restrictions. But in 354 this Taiwan was no different from many other countries around the world. Global opinion of Israel changed following victory in the Six Day War. As usual, the Arab states called for isolating and denouncing Israel. But other states began to view Israel as a regional power in the Middle East with a powerful army and advanced technology. Accordingly, the 1970s were marked by tightening of Taiwan–Israel ties in the field of defense purchasing and commercial cooperation. Initially some deals fell through, such as the purchase of Gabriel and Gabriel 2 missiles, and Kfir aircraft. These were cancelled by Israel (fearing reaction from the People’s Republic of China) or by the United States, as the Kfir aircraft carried American-manufactured components. But despite these failures, numerous deals were carried out. These included the sale of rifles, mortars, electronic equipment, and ammunition, and the transfer of technology for ground-to-ground missiles, short-range missiles, and anti-aircraft missiles. According to reports, by the end of the 1980s Israel had exported over five hundred missiles and seventy launchers to Taiwan as part of this cooperation. Other reports state that in the 1980s Israel supplied Taiwan with chemical materials, and in the 1990s deals were signed for selling Israeli manufactured Kfir aircraft, patrol speedboats, and missiles. Another 355 product of cooperation in these decades was that Israeli maritime company Zim opened a representative office in Taiwan. 356 From the mid-1970s Ya’akov Lieberman served as mediator for Israeli sales to Taiwan on behalf of three major Israeli arms manufacturers. According to Lieberman, Israeli Aircraft Industries sold Gabriel sea-to-sea missiles to Taiwan for $180 million, Tadiran sold know-how and facilities for establishing a car battery factory a 5C5B-9A66-42DD-BA4A-7CFC76D08490/0/israel_taiwan_trade_2012.pdf; and data from the Taiwan Office of Economy and Culture in Tel Aviv, in a letter from 214 China and Israel Taiwan’s investments in Israel are made directly or through third parties, mostly through Taiwan venture capital companies or as circular investments in Israeli high-tech companies traded on the US stock exchange. Mutual trade agreements between Israel and Taiwan include the protocol on the cancellation of customs tax on marine products (June 1998); a cooperation agreement on standardization (March 1998); a protocol for actions on the issue of temporary transfer of merchandise (July 2003); a protocol for cooperation on agricultural produce (July 2004); a technological cooperation agreement (January 2006); a cooperation agreement on hygiene and medical treatments (July 2006); a cooperation agreement on arbitrage (January 2007); a sister port agreement between Keelung and Eilat (July 2007); a protocol for cooperation on computerization of citizen services (March 2008); a protocol for cooperation on small- and medium-sized new businesses (August 2008); and a protocol for cooperation on customs issues (May 2009). In addition, tourists and scholars from Taiwan frequently visited Israel. China in the International Sphere Before the global economic crisis in 2008, Chinese historians conducted a study of the rise and fall of world powers such as Spain, Great Britain, and even the United States. They presented this study to members of the Communist Party Politburo, and it was also made into a twelve-part television series. Indeed, China has suddenly become an empire (although without colonies). It is a major international power that has risen quietly and confidently, but world public opinion is only starting to internalize this development. For example, before 2011 China had accumulated foreign currency reserves of over three trillion dollars, which subsequently 365 grew to over $3.8 trillion (and then again in 2016 dropped to $3.011 trillion). Theoretically, if Beijing decides to transfer a sizeable portion of its investments from the dollar basket to the Euro basket, it could cause the Susan C.I. Yang to Aron Shai, August 15, 2014. And information received from the Israeli office in Taipei, December 18, 2017. 365 People’s Bank of China, pbc.gov.cn, March 31, 2011. China’s foreign exchange reserves fell for a sixth straight month in December but by less than expected to the lowest since February 2011, as authorities stepped in to support the yuan ahead of US Presidentelect Donald Trump’s inauguration. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/06/china-foreignexchange-reserves-fall-in-december-to-lowest-since-february-2011.html (retrieved 18, 2017). • China, Israel, and Other Spheres    CHAPTER EIGHT 215 American economy to crash. This threat means that China is one of the most influential entities on the fate of the greatest world power. By the end of 2014 China had invested ten billion dollars on many initiatives in the African continent. Some of these, such as quarries and oil drilling, are designed to extract raw materials, whether directly or indirectly. After the Cold War, the international bipolar system pitting the United States against the Soviet Union disappeared. The United States became the only world power and enjoyed almost two decades of stable, uncontested hegemony. But this popular theory does not account for China’s “quiet ascension” (heping jueqi 和平崛起), which came to the foreground in the context of the economic crisis of 2008. What are the characteristics of this quiet ascension? In recent years a subtle but essential discussion has been taking place within China regarding its choices and strategy on global issues. On the pages of newspapers, magazines, and in numerous internal documents, senior Chinese officials and academics discuss the strategic possibility of translating their country’s impressive economic success into achievements in the global political arena. From the Chinese point of view, adopting a “New Path“ (xin daolu 新道路) does not mean entering conflicts with the United States or any other international power. On the contrary, it means showing the world that China intends to act to prevent possible conflicts. This process seems to fit China’s policy of “harmony” (he xie a national policy that aims to build an 和谐), integrated society, combining progress and innovation with preservation of its rich cultural tradition. Quiet ascension means that China recognizes the challenges involved in its new historic role as the rising power in the international sphere. We may even say that this is an appropriate response for the argument of the “Chinese threat” frequently raised in the world’s capitals. Indeed, the United States is concerned about the weapons and technology deals as well as the nuclear assistance that China is providing to rogue states, including Iran and Syria (which has a small Chinese-made reactor for research purposes). There is one exception to China’s role of “quiet ascension”: the sensitive, even explosive issue of Taiwan. The recent Anti-Secession Law should be seen in this light. Thus when determining its global priorities, Israel must consider China’s economic achievements as well as the forecasts that are being realized regarding China’s rise in the political arena. For example, China will undoubtedly play a significant role in the international arena, particularly 216 China and Israel in the Middle East and Israeli–Palestinian conflict. In broader terms, Israel must think “out of the box” and plan a long-term strategy. Under President Trump the United States will adopt a global role that differs from what Israel has been used to. Many lacunae will remain in which China may choose to act. There are additional international issues that are connected to China– Israel relations, even if indirectly. China has attempted to achieve scientific and technological cooperative ventures and various arrangements with US allies in Asia, Central Asia, Europe, South America, Africa, and Canada. It also came to Russia’s aid during the ruble crisis in late 2014. These efforts 366 do not have direct consequences for Israel or its relations with China, but they do have the potential to become severe points of contention between China and the United States. Only when the results of this situation are felt in the Middle East will these issues become imperative for Israel. If China’s appetite for natural resources grows, it is likely again to incite panic in Washington and lead to crucial decisions that have a domino effect on the Middle East. History has proven that conflicts between two powers based on the search for living space can lead to disastrous results. As already occurred in the Korean War, Israel might find itself at an uneasy junction for crucial decisions. In March and April 2018 it seemed that Donald Trump had embroiled the United States in a global trade war with China. The skirmish intensified after China imposed tit-for-tat import taxes on the United States and stock markets plunged. There are ways to make life quite harder for American companies in China that need not be formal or widely publicized. If the war spirals into a bigger conflict between the world’s two biggest economies, it will be difficult to predict how the rules of the commercial, economic, and even the political arenas will develop. The Future of Israel–China Relations Israel has come a long way since the 1970s, when the Foreign Ministry decided to close its representations in Hong Kong and South Korea due to budget cuts. In those days Israel’s Eurocentric tendency was so strong that appointing another diplomat to Paris or New York seemed more urgent than opening and maintaining representations in the young, emerging East Asian countries. The Marker, 366 December 23, 2014, Yediot Agencies. • China, Israel, and Other Spheres    CHAPTER EIGHT 217 Now we observe that Israel’s conception has changed. The consulate general in Guangzhou was opened in March 2009. Its purpose is assisting and promoting cooperation between Israel and four important provinces in southeast China: Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian, and Hainan, whose combined territory is thirty times the size of Israel and whose population is 220 million. During 2014 an Israeli consulate was opened in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province. Undoubtedly this initiative will increase Israel’s presence and influence in western China. Aside from the diplomatic and economic channels, Israel is taking steps in other fields as well. In recent years new Israeli and Jewish nonprofit organizations have been established with a focus on understanding and improving Israel–China relations, and general organizations have opened departments to address this issue. We note for example the Sino– Israel Global Network and Academic Leadership institute (SIGNAL), the Schusterman Foundation, The Israel Project (TIP), and the Israel–Asia Center, which all work to promote understanding of Israel in China, mainly in the media and academia. Their projects bring delegations and students from China to Israel, design Israel studies programs for use in China, and organize joint seminars. 367 Expanding cooperation in the fields of agriculture and technology and promoting tourism from China to Israel have the potential to double or even triple the scope of bilateral trade. These activities seem to be necessary in light of the American limitations on Israeli exports to China in other areas, mainly in the defense and security fields. These limitations may severely harm exports from Israel to other countries as well. Thus increasing the size of trade between China and Israel is not at all a guarantee. Still, in recent years business volume between the two states has reached an impressive level. The contracts for purchasing Makhteshim-Agan, Tnuva, and many more companies, as well as purchases and investments in high-tech, industry, and smartphone applications are perhaps an encouraging sign for the future. The guiding hand of the Chinese government seems to be pointing in a more lenient direction. Forecasts for the coming years estimate that business cooperation between the two countries will increase considerably. 368 367 Tjong-Alvares, “The Geography of Sino–Israeli Relatio e additional cooperative efforts in the neutral fields of science and academia, culture, and agriculture, strengthening informal ties in these areas. Chapter Nine Me, China, and Everyone Else After the opening of the Chinese embassy in Israel in 1992 and the arrival of Chinese diplomats, I met on occasion with the ambassadors and embassy officials, mainly the cultural and higher education attachés. Within a relatively brief time, the Chinese became acquainted with some of the complexities of Israeli society and Israeli politics and diplomacy. The embassy’s involvement in Israeli affairs has gradually increased. Alongside careful, highly professional diplomatic and consular work designed to promote bilateral ties in the economic, cultural, and educational realms, embassy officials have carefully followed events in the field of higher education. They were acquainted with the lecturers on Chinese studies and were aware of activities, classes, and lectures given on campuses, particularly those that addressed sensitive issues that deviated from Beijing’s official policy, such as Tibet and the Falun Gong. As an example, embassy officials have attempted to foil the Dalai Lama’s visits to Israel, or at least to minimize their significance and success. For obvious political reasons Israel’s official policy on this issue was to prohibit ministers and senior government officials from meeting the Dalai Lama. Israel also prohibited government representatives from having any contact with his retinue or with the Friends of Tibet Association, which was the main force behind bringing the Tibetan leader to Israel. During his last visit to Israel in 2006, the Chinese embassy tried to prevent the meeting with him held in the Smolarz Auditorium at Tel Aviv University. Ambassador Chen Yonglong called me and asked how we at Tel Aviv University, whom he considered friends of China, could permit such a visit. In response I contacted Professor Itamar Rabinovich, president of the university, and explained the dilemma of the Chinese and their request to the university. Rabinovich explained that Smolarz Auditorium functioned as an independent economic unit at the university and that anyone was permitted to rent it and use it for their purposes. “We cannot and • Me, China, and Everyone Else    CHAPTER NINE 221 do not wish to interfere in this issue,” he asserted. When I explained this to the ambassador, he asked me to arrange a meeting with Rabinovich. As the president thought that the meeting should be short, we scheduled it for the fifteen minutes preceding the festive opening of the event—the first day of the Chinese New Year in February 2006. In the meantime I made several inquiries and tried to discover what the Chinese ambassador might be after. I concluded that above all, he would consider it important to placate his government in Beijing. With this in mind I suggested that Rabinovich hand him an official letter stating that despite his position as head of the university, his hands were tied on the matter. At the meeting, which was held in the president’s office, Rabinovich clarified his position diplomatically, and as per my suggestion he presented the letter to the ambassador. The ambassador was reasonably satisfied. Another incident in which the ambassador tried to meddle in university affairs took place in 2004, about two years before the Dalai Lama incident. One of the secretaries at the Chinese embassy called me and asked whether a certain lecture on the Falun Gong was indeed planned to take place on our campus. At the time the Chinese government was conducting a comprehensive attack on this movement due to its teachings. The embassy representatives repeatedly emphasized to me that the movement was causing severe damage to its adherents and that many had even committed suicide due to the leaders’ exhortations. I clarified to the secretary that we did not teach this topic in the East Asian Studies Department and that we had no part in the event, but that possibly one of the students had initiated a lecture. Still, I emphasized that the university was a free and autonomous body and that we permitted a range of activities without overhead supervision. Greater tension was caused following another initiative at the university related to the Falun Gong. In March 2008 the students’ organization displayed an exhibit on the movement’s activity at the entrance to the main library at the university. To be more exact, the exhibit was a graphic display of horrors allegedly perpetrated by the Chinese government against Falun Gong members, including torture and organ harvesting. The students had received permission for the exhibit from the dean of students and China expert Professor Yoav Ariel. Regardless of whether Ariel investigated the origins of the exhibit and its implication ree expression. I then responded to the ambassador’s complaint about two terms that he thought I had used, which turned out to be translation errors. • Me, China, and Everyone Else    CHAPTER NINE 225 I had delivered my speech in Hebrew and two translators had translated my words into English. The ambassador said that I had used the derogatory expression “Chinamen” five times in my speech to refer to the Chinese. After the speech, when I realized there was a diplomatic problem, I spoke with the two translators, and one admitted that she had used the pejorative term “Chinamen” by mistake. The ambassador also complained about my use of the Hebrew expression ha-mishtar ha-Sini, which means “the Chinese government.” The translator had rendered this expression “the Chinese regime,” which the Chinese also interpreted as negative. This diplomatic incident and the previous incidents that involved my contact with the embassy led me to reevaluate dealings with the Chinese. I had the impression that the Chinese were guilty of the sin of pride. This feeling only intensified as time went on, and we had to consider how to deal with this new psychological reality. As one who had been involved with China–Israel relations for many years, during that period I felt for the first time that the relationship of the Israeli media to China had changed for the worse. International criticism against China on numerous issues, including human rights and Tibet, swept some Israeli intellectuals and journalists into a furor. Former minister Yossi Sarid published many articles in which he attacked China, the rising global power. His anti-Chinese approach reminded his readers of his critical position against Turkey on the Armenian genocide issue. Sarid was an independent politician and a top-tier intellectual who over the years became a virulent critic of the government even while he served in its ranks. He claimed to be guided only by his own conscience. At the time, several journalists contacted me, and from their questions I realized just how noisy the criticism of the People’s Republic had become. A journalist from Globes business newspaper contacted me under the pretense of hearing my impressions and understanding my position regarding China–Israel relations. But during the telephone interview I realized that she was digging for criticisms of China and its Tel Aviv embassy. She repeatedly asked about the removal of the students’ association exhibit on the Falun Gong and insisted that China did not permit researchers from Israel to travel to Beijing and access its archives. She particularly noted the case of Yitzhak Shichor. Shichor was a Sinologist and an old friend of mine. Until recently, the Chinese embassy refused to grant him an entry visa to China (aside from Israeli Falun Gong activist Yishai Lamish, Shichor was the only Israeli who had been refused entry). Although the Chinese authorities have 226 China and Israel never explained the reason for their refusal, obviously they were disturbed by his research on the Uyghur Muslims of Xinjiang in northwest China. Shichor was connected with a group of American researchers who published their findings on this issue, and this acted as a thorn in the side of the Beijing government. All attempts by the Israeli Foreign Ministry and pleas from various entities to reverse the decision were in vain. In my conversations with the deputy ambassador I frequently raised the prohibition against Shichor’s entering China. I explained to her that on this issue, the embassy was acting against its own best interests. While the deputy ambassador indicated special concern for the issue, she hinted that the embassy had no influence in the matter. Over the next few years, no compromise appeared on the horizon. The Chinese considered that Shichor had been too outspoken in his criticism of the People’s Republic, and in one conversation the deputy ambassador hinted to me that the chances were very low that her government would change its position against him. In at least one case the Chinese embassy refused to cooperate with an Israeli body that Shichor headed. Communication between the institutions was possible only after he was removed from the position. Recently, the Chinese authorities altered their stance on Shichor and now he visits China frequently. Again, no explanations have been given for the change of policy. The Confucius Institute: Founding, Crises, and Return to Routine In late 2007 a branch of the worldwide Confucius Institute was founded at Tel Aviv University. The Confucius Institutes are funded by the Hanban, a Chinese government office with the goal of teaching Chinese language and culture on campuses around the world. Its establishment at Tel Aviv University was preceded by burdensome, troubling internal discussions. Some colleagues were suspicious of a Chinese presence on campus. If the activity of the Confucius Institute resembled that of the Goethe Institute, Cervantes Institute, the British Council, and other similar bodies, then it should not, they asserted, be established on campus but rather outside the university walls. My colleagues feared that the Chinese would become overly involved in academic activity and that they would try to influence the university through the Institute. As one of the founders and the first director of the East Asian Studies Department, my opinion was that given the lack of other sources of funding for the department, we should open the Institute. This would enable us to promote the teaching of the Chinese • Me, China, and Everyone Else    CHAPTER NINE 227 language at the university and beyond as well as expand our research on issues related to China. I hoped that the funding we would receive would permit us to make breakthroughs in areas such as Israel–China relations and the Chinese Jews, as well as many other sinology topics. In the end, despite the objections I succeeded in convincing the president and rector of the university that we should open the Institute. With the assistance of the university legal advisor, I wrote a document that would ensure the university’s independence. The center began to function with Professor Meir Shahar as director. Since then our ties with the embassy have strengthened with regard to teaching Chinese language and culture. Naturally, China’s critics continued to complain that the Institute’s existence did not allow the university adequate room to maneuver beyond the reach of political pressure. “Did you remove the exhibit on the Falun Gong because of your obligations toward the Chinese? Can the Confucius Institute organize a conference on Tibetan issues?” Such questions were raised repeatedly. In fact, the Institute did pose a problem. My contacts with directors of other Confucius Institutes around the world revealed that they had second thoughts regarding the connection with Beijing—the Chinese issued too many directives and orders to the Institute researchers. Often, Institute members asked whether they had taken the right step in connecting with a Chinese government body. A Canadian branch of the Confucius Institute was closed in 2013 following intervention of the court, which argued that the Chinese demands regarding Institute employees contradicted the values of freedom of employment and worship. My view was that the Institute was intended to promote cultural topics, and considering that members of the Institute steering committee were professors, I did not expect them to experience any real pressure from Beijing. One of the points that I made sure to include in the founding document covered the possibility of cancelling the relationship (with advance notice of six months). The Confucius Institute at Tel Aviv University blossomed. We expanded activity and increased the number of schools where our students and graduates taught Chinese. The university hosted major international conferences on Chinese studies on diverse topics such as Chinese popular religion and China as a global economic power. In October 2009 the Institute hosted a symposium on “China, Is