World / Middle East

10-year multiple-entry visa pact signed

By ZHANG YUNBI in Jerusalem ( Updated: 2016-03-29 22:22

Jerusalem - China and Israel signed an agreement today to issue each other's applicants multiple-entry visas valid for 10 years.

The agreement was signed at the venue of the second meeting of the China-Israel Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation, co-chaired by Vice-Premier Liu Yandong and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Liu has suggested China and Israel "reinforce the effective dovetailing of innovation strategies".

Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Ming and his Israeli counterpart, Tzipi Hotovely, signed a multiple-entry visa agreement for holders of Israeli national passports and Chinese ordinary passports.

The good news about the visa facilitation was unveiled with a rising number of visits exchanged between the two countries. In January, visa exemption was achieved for holders of diplomatic passports and service passports.

When meeting with Liu earlier today, Netanyahu said Israel welcomes more Chinese tourists to his country.

Last year, 47,000 Chinese visited Israel, and according to Zhan, the ambassador, China's Hainan Airlines will open a direct flight between Beijing and Tel Aviv next month.

Wu Bingbing, a professor of Middle East studies at Peking University, said one of the largest comparative advantages of the Israeli economy is brainpower, and China could benefit more from expanded cultural exchanges.

Eyes on innovation

Diplomats and experts said the Committee meeting will refuel China's ongoing shift toward an innovation-oriented economy as there is a lot than could be learned from Israel, a leading economy with cutting-edge technologies and entrepreneurship.

The two leaders witnessed 13 documents signed, covering fields such as science, education, health, culture and locality-level cooperation.

Also today, Liu and Netanyahu jointly attended the opening ceremony of the official website of the China-Israel innovation cooperation center.

Liu and Netanyahu also unveiled the Israel-Changzhou Initiative. Changzhou of Eastern China's Jiangsu province is home to the China-Israel Innovation Park.

Chinese Ambassador to Israel Zhan Yongxin has said, "the two economies are highly complementary".

"Israel has advanced technology, strong innovation, and numerous start-ups, while China is famous for its strong manufacturing capacity and broad market," Zhan told a seminar earlier this month.

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