Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Why The Chinese Bond With Israel May Get Even Better

Relations between China and Israel are good -- and appear to be getting better.

In 2012 it was announced that Israel and China Will Work Together On The New Eilat Railway.
Last year it was clear that Netanyahu's Visit To China Brings Opportunities For Both.

Israel's prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu talks to China's premier Li Keqiang
 during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China.
Photograph: Pool/Getty Images Credit: The Guardian

Barry Rubin went so far as to suggest that In A Few Years China Will Likely Be the Second-Most Important Country for Israel

Taking a different tack on this new development, David P. Goldman writes that Common Traits Bind Jews and Chinese
The Chinese are connoisseurs of civilization. For thousands of years they have absorbed ethnicities into their own culture, eliminating on occasion tribes that proved too troublesome. They have watched other civilizations come and go; they have seen their younger neighbors adopt parts of their culture and then try to assert their superiority, and ultimately fail. They are the last people on earth to accept the liberal Western dogma that every culture is valid within its own terms of reference, for they have seen too many civilizations fail of their own flaws.

There is no greater compliment to any culture than to be admired by Chinese, who with some justification regard their civilization as the world's most ancient and, in the long run, most successful. The high regard that the Chinese have for Jews should be a source of pride to the latter. In fact, it is very pleasant indeed for a Jew to spend time in China. The sad history of Jew-hatred has left scars on every European nation, but it is entirely absent in the world's largest country. On the contrary, to the extent that Chinese people know something of the Jews, their response to us is instinctively sympathetic.

"I am always surprised by the expressions of affection that the Chinese show for the Jews. Both cultures, the Chinese emphasize, share respect for family, learning and, yes, money," wrote the journalist Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore last year. '"Most Chinese will think Jews are smart, clever or good at making money, and that they have achieved a great deal,' Professor Xu Xin, director of the Institute of Jewish Studies at Nanjing University (one of over half a dozen centers in China dedicated to studying Judaism) told me last week," she wrote. "This logic - that the Jews are admired for their success despite their small numbers and historical oppression - has also led to a burgeoning industry of self-help books that use Jewish culture and the Talmud to preach business tips."
Read the whole thing.

Another bond between China and Israel may be that the Chinese feel as strongly about Taiwan as Israel does about Jerusalem.

Eric Olander writes:
...What really surprises me though is that despite China vast differences across economic, social, ethnic, religious, cultural, linguistic and even political lines, 99.9% of all Mainlanders have one thing in common: Taiwan. While a student at Beijing University, I once asked my professor why it was that everyone from the taxi driver on the streets of Changsha to the highest government official in Zhongnanhai was uniform in their determination on the Taiwan question, it was simply put to me: "Taiwan is our Jerusalem." China, my professor explained, is simply not complete without the re-unification of Taiwan with the Mainland. He went to say that if Taiwan was to ever to formally declare its political independence Beijing would have no choice but to claim the island by force for the Chinese leadership very legitimacy would be at stake. No Chinese leader, he concluded, could stay in power overseeing the formal end to the dream of a unified country. It just won't happen he demured. [emphasis added]
While the Chinese identification with Taiwan may not cause the government to turn around and take up Israel's position on Jerusalem, it is one more commonality between the two countries that may to the kind of bond that Rubin predicts.

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