A talk by Peter Berton, with Otto Schnepp as discussant
The Jewish presence in China dates back over a thousand years, and one can identify four distinct waves of Jewish migration to China. How did the PRC's relations with Israel and with former Jewish residents in China develop? Beijing’s relations with Jerusalem predate China’s formal recognition of Israel and the establishment of full diplomatic relations in 1992. The Sino-Soviet conflict left China without access to spare parts for its Soviet-made military and civilian equipment. Israel was only too happy to sell Soviet-made weapons that it had captured from the defeated Arab armies. These mutually beneficial sales were done in strict secrecy. With official recognition, relations between China and Israel rapidly expanded to include trade and joint ventures in a number of fields, but most notably in agriculture, weaponry, and high technology. The Chinese government also became interested in taking advantage of the heritage of former Jewish residents to promote tourism, trade, and foreign investment in the pursuit of economic development. For their part, the latter took the initiative to organize the Israel-China Friendship Association. Recently, there seems to be also an emecrging keen interest in China in popularizing Jewish values and urging Chinese youngsters to emulate Jews as a key to success in life.
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Peter Berton is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of International Relations at USC and Emeritus, New Center for Psychoanalysis, Los Angeles. He was a resident of Harbin from 1928 to 1941.
Otto Schnepp is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at USC. He was Counselor for Science and Technology, U.S. Embassy in Beijing, 1980-1982, and a former director of the USC East Asian Studies Center, 1994-2000. Professor Schnepp was a resident of Shanghai from 1939 to 1948.
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