This year’s Pujiang Innovation Forum from May 31 to June 4 aims to deepen international cooperation in science and technology.

The United Arab Emirates, this year’s Country of Honor, will share its experiences in innovation at the forum and will have a national pavilion at the forum’s Inno-Match Expo featuring displays and summits to promote global technology transfer.

Some Asian and European countries will also have national pavilions to demonstrate their latest achievements.

Dubai in the UAE has several industries, such as energy and information safety, that play a leading role in the world. It has formed a successful partnership with China, and in particular with Shanghai regarding the World Expo, said Chen Hongkai, an official from the Shanghai Science and Technology Commission.

“We hope it can further promote the innovation network along with Belt and Road  countries,” he said.

Academic publisher Springer Nature will co-host a “Future Science” forum that will focus on the neural mechanism of cognition, promote new technologies that facilitate the study of the brain, as well as explore brain diseases and brain-like intelligence.

The opening ceremony will be held at 2pm on June 3 at the Dongjiao State Guest Hotel.

There will be speeches by Bernard Lucas Feringa, a Dutch synthetic organic chemist, Steven Inchcoombe, chief publishing officer at Springer Nature, Vas Narasimhan, CEO of Novartis, and Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet.

There will also be contributions from neuroscientist Mu-ming Poo, Nobel laureate Michael Levitt, Chinese military medical scientist Chen Wei, and other renowned scientists.

This year’s forum will join hands with the Xplorer Prize to hold a Yes Summit, inviting young scientists at home and abroad to exchange ideas.

The Xplorer Prize was initiated by Pony Ma, Tencent’s chairman, and CEO, and 14 scientists in 2018 to support full-time Chinese mainland-based scientists under 45 years old in areas of fundamental science and cutting-edge technologies.

China’s Investments in Israel

Meanwhile, the Israel-China friendship has blossomed over the past decade – or so the story goes. Back in 1992, when the two countries first established official ties, bilateral trade stood at a mere US$50 million.

Today, that figure has reached upwards of $11 billion. It’s not only trade; China has invested billions into Israel’s much-vaunted technology sector and has also emerged as an important partner for infrastructure projects within the framework of its global mega-infrastructure project, the Belt and Road Initiative.

Israel studies have become a feature at universities across the mainland and more than 150,000 Chinese tourists visited the Jewish State in 2019 alone.

Nevertheless, it seems this newfound friendship has failed to spill over into the political realm. China consistently votes against Israel at the UN. Israel has failed to encourage Beijing to stop supporting Iran – a country that backs the activities of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and calls for the destruction of Israel.

Moreover, China refuses to designate Hamas a terrorist organization and has even once called it the “chosen representative of the Palestinian people,” even though Hamas took control of Gaza by force rather than election.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi has also reaffirmed China’s longstanding conviction that “the Palestinian question has always been the core of the Middle East issue.”

This claim neglects the fact that the Arab spring of 2011 had more to do with the internal social and political issues of the respective countries that slipped into chaos than it did with the Israel-Palestine conflict.

It also fails to capture the complexity of the longstanding cold war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which has spilled over into neighboring countries and caused a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions in Yemen.

Nevertheless, China has taken the opportunity to use the current conflict to vindicate its long-held assertion that the Israel-Palestine conflict is the root cause of the region’s woes.

Normalization of Ties

China’s attitude towards Israel and the Israel-Palestine conflict has its roots in China’s modern history.

Back in 1950, Israel was the first country in the Middle East to recognize the People’s Republic of China. China, however, did not reciprocate.

At the time, then Chairman of the Communist Party Mao Zedong sought to rally partners from the Arab and Muslim world to join its “United Front” against the “Imperialist West.” Accordingly, China came to sympathize with the Palestinian cause and adopted an openly critical stance towards Israel.

The Sino-Soviet split and subsequent normalization of relations between China and the US which began in 1972 slowly paved the way for initial contact between the two countries. Israel had recently emerged victorious from a series of brutal wars with its Arab neighbors and sought to sell some of its captured Soviet-made weapons systems.

China, with its existing Soviet arsenal, was a prime customer. Wishing to balance the Soviet Union’s influence in Asia, America sanctioned these sales.