Israeli citizens can now obtain a 10-year visa to China, joining a select group of nations with this privilege, which only includes the US and Canada. Chinese citizens will be entitled to obtain a parallel visa to visit Israel.
Until recently, Israeli tourists and businesspeople who wanted to travel to China were required to obtain a onetime-use visa which only lasted the length of the visitor's stay in the country. This new visa agreement is expected to facilitate travel between China and Israel, encourage Chinese tourists to visit Israel, and save time and money. The agreement will be signed by the Vice Premier of China Liu Yandong and Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
70 thousand Israelis visit China every year, compared to 33 thousand Chinese who visit Israel.
"This visa agreement is very important, especially since next month Hainan airlines will begin flying directly from China to Israel," Hagai Shagrir, head of the North East Asian division of the Foreign Ministry said.
"The second consideration Chinese have when deciding where to travel—besides amicable visa policies—is whether or not there are direct flights to their destination and if Chinese companies fly to these destinations. With both the air-link and improved visa access, we will be able to reach our goal of having 100 thousand Chinese tourists visit Israel within two or three years," Shagrir added.
This and other cooperation agreements between Israel and China were signed this week during the Second Israel-China innovation council meeting at the Foreign Ministry. Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong came at the head of a delegation of 80 people which included three ministers, nine deputy ministers, and 14 heads or deputy heads of Chinese universities. Benjamin Netanyahu was the head of the Israeli delegation.
Throughout the meeting, the participants received reports from various ministries regarding the progress being made in regards to cooperation between the two sides. On top of this, 13 joint agreements were signed alongside the launch of two joint projects. One of the projects is an important inter-governmental platform which the two countries implemented, and which was planned after the leaders of Israel and China met in 2014.
According to Shagrir, "The conference is the most important inter-governmental platform we have with China today."
Some of the other agreements which were signed include cooperation in the fields of education, and increased collaboration between the Health, Energy, and Agriculture Ministries of both countries. Additionally, two projects headed by the chief scientist of Israel in the Ministry of Economy, which also launched an Israeli-Chinese website for government leaders, business people, and investors from both countries.