Relations between China and Israel are friendly but complex. The main complication is that Israel is a close ally of the US.


But bilateral ties got a little bit stronger this week, after Li Jiange, the former chairman of investment bank China International Capital Corp. said he will become the chancellor of a university co-founded by institutes in China and Israel, reported Chinese independent news agency Caixin.

The new school, called the Guangdong-Technion Israel Institute of Technology (GTIIT) is a joint venture between the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, a science and technology research university in Israel, and Shantou University in the southern province of Guangdong.

“I hope that through this collaboration, we can introduce Israel’s advanced teaching models and creative thinking into China,” Li told Caixin on Tuesday. “We hope to build a Chinese Silicon Valley backed by the university to promote economic transformation in Guangdong and across the country.”

The school reached out to Li when the new university was initially being planned, he said.

Li has held top posts in the government’s economic policymaking departments, including deputy director of the former Economics Restructuring Office and deputy director of the Development Research Center of the State Council. He left the government in 2008 to become chairman of China International Capital, the country’s first joint venture investment bank, and vice chairman of Central Huijin Investment, a subsidiary of state sovereign fund China Investment, reported Caixin.

The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is known for its science and engineering programs. It helped Israel win its first Nobel Prize in the natural sciences, its website says.

The joint venture was launched in September 2013 with a US$ 130 million grant from the Li Ka-shing Foundation, a charitable organization named after the Hong Kong tycoon, and $ 147 million from the governments of Guangdong and Shantou, a statement released from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology said.

“GTIIT will create a new academic facility and a new era of cooperative research between Israel and China in science, engineering and the life sciences,” the statement said.

It also said that the school plans to provide three undergraduate degree programs taught in English for its first students. Teachers from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology will comprise at least one-third of the faculty members.

The Ministry of Education has approved the plan and students will receive a diploma from the government and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology after finishing courses, Zhu Xiaodan, Guangdong’s governor, said earlier this year.

The building of the university will start in December and enrollment for undergraduate programs will start as early as next year, he added.

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