October 29, 2017 — Beijing, China
Beijing – An AJC delegation has just concluded a three-day visit to China.
“We attach great importance to the U.S.-Chinese relationship, which, as Americans, we believe to be the single most important bilateral relationship in the world in the 21st century,” said AJC CEO David Harris, who led the 11-member group. “And, as Jews, we shall long remember not only the remarkable absence of antisemitism in Chinese history, but also the haven that many thousands of Jews fleeing the Holocaust found in the Chinese cities of Harbin and Shanghai.”
“We also happily take note of the past 25 years of bilateral relations between Israel and China, which have rapidly expanded in many fields,” Harris added. “As we have long believed, despite the disparate sizes of the two countries, there is a striking complementarity of shared interests.”
The principal topics of discussion during the visit were: (i) the China-U.S. relationship; (ii) China-Israel ties; (iii) the Korean Peninsula; (iv) and Middle East regional issues. The trip came just after the conclusion of the 19th Party Congress, which had been the focus of considerable international and domestic attention in the previous weeks.
Among the highlights of the visit was the delegation’s hour-long meeting with Foreign Minister Wang Yi, held at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The discussion was warm and productive, and the Minister praised AJC’s “important” role in the U.S. and longstanding friendship and cooperation with China.
U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad, along with his wife and members of the U.S. Embassy team, hosted the delegation for lunch. Much of the conversation focused on the U.S. Embassy’s preparations for President Trump’s upcoming visit to China.
As Governor of Iowa Ambassdor Branstad was one of 50 state leaders to sign AJC’s Governors United Against BDS statement.
The delegation also met with Israeli diplomats to discuss the state of bilateral links and ideas for their further growth and development.
The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), which has been described by Foreign Policy magazine as the top think tank in Asia, hosted AJC for dinner. The discussion with scholars and researchers revolved principally around the Middle East. A delegation from CASS visited AJC headquarters in New York in November 2016.
Peking University, one of China’s leading academic institutions, also extended a welcome to the delegation. At the university Harris delivered a lecture entitled “An American Jewish Perspective on Global Trends” to over 100 undergraduate and graduate students. Subsequently, the delegation met with a group of university leaders, led by Vice President Gang Tian.
On Friday evening, the delegation joined members of the Beijing Jewish community for Shabbat services and dinner. Harriet Schleifer, Chair of AJC’s Board of Governors, addressed the attendees.
AJC’s Asia Pacific Institute (API) was founded in 1989. It is the first such institution in the American Jewish community devoted exclusively to the region. The director, Shira Loewenberg, accompanied the delegation. The last API visit to China was in March 2017.