The Shmooze

Making Friends: China Grants Israeli Ambassador Honorary Citizenship

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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While so many countries are shunning Israel these days, China is going against the grain by officially and ceremoniously recognizing its ties with the Jewish State.

Ynet reported that on Wednesday, the Israeli ambassador to China, Amos Nadai, was granted honorary citizenship to Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan province in western China. This is the first time such an honor was bestowed on a foreign ambassador. Nadai has been Israel’s ambassador to China since August 2007.

The honor came seven months after the Israeli embassy in Beijing held a week-long celebration of Israeli culture and commerce in Chengdu called “Israel Week.” The event marked the 18th anniversary of Israel-China diplomatic relations, and served as an opportunity for Israel to positively brand itself and introduce itself to the Chinese in a multifaceted way.

In answering a question in an interview for the Israel-Asia Center about how Israel, such a small country, can effectively promote itself in huge China, Nadai had the following to say:

The knowledge about Israel in China is totally irrelevant to Israel’s size. Israel is considered in China much bigger than what it really is. When I tell Chinese the real size and population of Israel, they don’t really believe it. The only thing we consider is pointing out the areas in civil technology, in agriculture, in water, in biotechnology where China is really going ahead very, very swiftly, and where Israeli technologies may be of demand, may be of higher relevance to the Chinese.

In other words, when it comes to making friends with China, Israel reassures us that size doesn’t matter.


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