by Keren Setton
JERUSALEM, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- With a decade of major technological cooperation between Israel and China, the prospect for more joint efforts between the two countries in the sector seems brighter and more optimistic, especially after the 25th anniversary of the establishment of China-Israel diplomatic relations in 2017.
In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, Aharon Aharon, chief of the Israeli Innovation Authority (IIA), and Avi Luvton, director of Asia Pacific Operations at the authority, both saw China as a critical player in Israel's innovative future.
"China is one of the most important and strategic countries that we would like to cooperate with," Luvton told Xinhua.
He referred to China's huge market and technological capabilities, hailing it powerful "not only in terms of size, population and military but also in technology."
In 2014, China and Israel established an intergovernmental committee for innovation aimed at promoting mutual technological development.
According to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, the trade between the two countries exceeded 11 billion U.S. dollars in 2016, making China the third largest trading partner of Israel.
Just as recently as this week, an Israeli-Chinese technology incubator was inaugurated in Guangzhou, China's third largest city.
For Aharon, Israelis and the Chinese share a lot of national characters.
"The spirit on entrepreneurship is common, as well as the hunger to do things and succeed," the IIA chief told Xinhua.
One of Israel's fortes is its highly-skilled technological workforce with education in Israeli colleges and universities that are ranked high on world scales.
Israel, a country with a population of approximately 8 million, has five universities in the list of the 2017 Academic Ranking World Universities by Shanghai Ranking Consultancy, a Chinese fully independent organization dedicated to research on higher education intelligence and consultation.
Israel has maintained its status as a high-tech hub for the past decades with major multinational companies setting up shop in the small Middle Eastern country.
Both Aharon and Luvton are happy to see more Chinese corporate presence in Israel, even as dozens of Chinese companies have already set foot there.
Aharon believes that Israel's R&D competencies makes its collaboration with China "a win-win situation."
One of the advantages that contributes to Israel's success is the Israeli attitude of mind which allows for failures and risks, as Israeli engineers boast curiosity and entrepreneurship as the bases for their inventions, according to Aharon.
In addition, the multidisciplinary pursuit is another factor, as "Israelis normally would like to extend their knowledge beyond the discipline that they are responsible for," he explained.
As an alumnus of Unit 8400, an Israeli intelligence Corps unit considered the breeding ground of many Israeli leading technologists, Aharon hopes for an increase in life-sciences start-ups, as well as greater cooperation with China in the sector.
While it holds a leading role in Israel's exports, the high-tech sector in the small country is enjoyed largely by its stronger socio-economic layers of society, leaving the peripheral areas and populations sometimes far behind.
In addition, many traditional industries in Israel have not progressed into using high-tech solutions to enhance work productivity.
Meanwhile, data from various research centers and the the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development also show Israeli labor productivity as one of the lowest in the developed world.
At the beginning of this year, the IIA, together with Israel's Ministry of Economy and Industry, launched an incentive plan that offers R&D grants and tax benefits to Israeli companies in the periphery.
In the meantime, an uptick in Chinese investments in Israel's infrastructure sector may help promote progress in these areas.
With China's Belt and Road Initiative well underway, it seems both Israel and China can benefit from increased cooperation with complementary technological abilities.
The initiative, proposed by China in 2013, refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aiming at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road trade routes to seek common development and prosperity.