Israel-China economic ties keep growing
A senior delegation from Shengjing visits JVP in Jerusalem. (photo by Yael Rivkind, JVP, via israel21c.org)
Fiona Darmon, a partner at JVP, one of Israel’s most successful venture capital funds, was recently in China at a meeting with a large investor. She sat in his office for more than an hour, chatting with him about everything but business. Only then, she said, did he nod to his subordinates, and Darmon was taken into another room, where the business discussions began.
“The mindset in China is that if we’re going to do business and I’m going to entrust you with my capital, let’s see if we have a personal rapport before I even move to the next step,” Darmon told this reporter. “It’s about you as a person, first.”
Israelis are not known for their patience, and that can be a challenge, said Ilan Maor, a managing director of Sheng-BDO (Business Development Organization) and a former Israeli consul in China. Yet economic ties are “booming,” he said.
“The most important aspects of the commercial cooperation are gradually moving from buying and selling toward the main pillars of the future of technology and investment,” Maor explained. “China is taking its place gradually as a strategic player in the Israeli market.”
As an example, the Chinese company Bright Star is on the verge of buying a majority stake in Tnuva, Israel’s iconic dairy company. The company is so central to Israel’s image of itself that, on leaving Israel, the last thing you see on the way to duty free is the logo of Tnuva’s cottage cheese container made out of flowers. If the sale goes through as expected, China and Israel’s kibbutz cooperative movement will share ownership of the dairy company.
More and more Chinese business people are visiting Israel looking to invest and to learn from Israel’s entrepreneurs.
“Israel is not only the ‘startup nation,’ it is also the ‘innovation nation,’” said Xueling Cao, director of the Shengjing Group, who was in Israel when she spoke with this reporter. “China is a huge consumer market and Israel is a huge source of innovation and technology, and we can match the two together.”
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