• About CEIBS

    Sign up, follow us and join the conversation on CEIBS Social Media!

    Social Media
  • About CEIBS

    China Depth, Global Breadth

    CEIBS Beijing
  • About CEIBS

    Unmatched China knowledge, proven global expertise

    CEIBS Shanghai
Friday, September 29, 2017

Building A Digital Belt & Road

September 26, 2017. Shanghai - China and Israel at first glance do not seem to have much in common, and yet both countries have a relationship that goes back centuries, all the way to the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127). CEIBS Honorary President Liu Ji noted this long history in his welcome address ahead of the lecture today by Dr. Yossi Beilin, and pointed out that Israel was the first country to recognize the newly-founded People’s Republic of China. Dr. Beilin is the former Israel Minister of Justice, MP, Deputy Foreign Minister, and Co-Founder of the Oslo Accords and the lecture he gave at the Shanghai Campus was titled “China and Israel Toward the Future: A “Digital” One Belt, One Road?”

An old friend of China, Dr. Beilin’s first visited China  in 1992 as Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel.  He told the audience that realizing the importance of Shanghai, after that visit he urged the Israeli Government to establish a consulate in Shanghai in addition to its embassy in Beijing.

He also noted that in terms of the development of their economies, China and Israel actually have several things in common. For example like China, Israel at first tried to be mainly independent and produce everything domestically, but later had to open up and start exporting goods while importing what could not be easily be produced in the country.

Israel became a start-up nation only after a huge failure in the 1970s, when Israel wanted to build its own jet airplane. Having wasted endless amounts of money, the plan finally was dismissed and thousands of engineers lost their jobs. These engineers later  joined hands with those leaving the army who had served in a specially-trained high technology unit and they combined their ideas and energy into start-ups. Even today, many Israeli start-ups are created by those who served together in the same army unit and received the same high-tech training.

If there is one thing Chinese society can learn from Israel, Dr. Beilin said it is to be more supportive of failures. “You fail, you start again” is the motto in Israel, he said, and he encouraged Chinese to not be afraid of failure.

With regard to the Belt and Road Initiative, Dr. Beilin said that Israel can be part of the BRI even though Israel is not located physically along the New Silk Road. He also pointed out that the BRI will require cooperation between many countries, which  also means that China will have to deal with some conflicts. Dr. Beilin ended his session by encouraging more exchanges between China and Israel. This is already happening at CEIBS, as the school has sent several delegations to Israel to learn more about its development as a start-up nation.

Claudia Schaeffer
Janine M. Coughlin