Israel, China to Sign 10-Year Visa Accord

YERUSHALAYIM -

The Israeli pivot to Asia continues this week with an agreement for a 10-year, multi-visit visa aimed at promoting travel and business ties, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong are expected to finalize the accord on Tuesday.

The new visa is the headliner of a series of agreements set for signing, including an increase in scholarships for Chinese students to study in Israel, the development of Israeli innovation centers in China in agriculture, public health, education and entrepreneurship, as well as a new program to bring some 1,000 young Chinese leaders over the next three years to Israel on seven- to ten-day trips to expose them to the country.

Hagai Shagrir, the director of the Foreign Ministry’s Northeast Asia department, noted that the visa agreement will be the first of its kind for Israel, and the third for China, which also has this arrangement with the U.S. and Canada.

“When a Chinese tourist or businessman looks where to travel, he looks for two things: where it is easiest in terms of visas, and if there are direct flights with a Chinese airline,” Shagrir said.

That Chinese tourist or businessman will soon find both in Israel. Obtaining the new visa will be easier than ever; and in another three weeks China’s Hainan Airlines inaugurates a direct route from Beijing to Tel Aviv. Hainan will fly to Israel three times a week, adding to El AL’s three direct flights a week to Beijing.

Liu Yandong is in the country as head of an 80-member Chinese delegation to take part in the second annual Israel-China Committee for Cooperation in Innovation. It is the annual equivalent of the government-to-government meetings Israel holds with countries such as Germany, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria.

Bilateral trade between Chine and Israel in 2015 topped $9 billion, double the figure in 2007.