Top Chinese and Israeli military officials met in Beijing earlier this week, signaling increased cooperation between the two nations, that formerly regarded each other tepidly.
Gen. Chen Bingde, China's equivalent to the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met Monday with his Israeli counterpart Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz to discuss expanding military ties, including a training mission to Israel for Chinese paramilitary forces that police restive regions populated by ethnic Tibetans and Muslim Uyghurs.
The Chinese side attaches importance to the ties with the Israeli military, willing to make concerted efforts with the Israeli side to deepen pragmatic cooperation and contribute to the overall bilateral ties, said Gen. Chen, according to Chinese state media outlet Xinhua.
China and Israel did not establish diplomatic relations until 1992, but began to solidify a partnership in the following years with a series of military technology exchanges much to the chagrin of the U.S., Israel's most powerful ally.
The U.S. ultimately pressured Israel into backing out of several deals, including the sale of advanced radar systems and drone aircraft components, in 2000 and 2005 respectively, which soured ties between the two countries.
Recent global developments, however, have caused Sino-Israeli relations to warm up.
China's growing prominence as world economic and political force serves Israel's interests on two fronts: it's an untapped market for Israel's advanced military technology and services sector and it can potentially put pressure on Iran's nuclear program from its seat on the U.N. Security Council.
For China, the outbreak of the Arab Spring in 2011 has both threatened to destabilize China's economic interests in the Middle East and inspire unrest within its own borders. In Israel, China has a relatively stable partner in the region, and a country that can provide expertise on how to manage its own domestic security.