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China and Israel shake over new military links

    Barak with Gen. Bingde this week
    Barak with Gen. Bingde this week

    The arrival of the chief of Chinese military, General Chan Bingde, on Sunday in Israel for a four-day visit is a signal of the thawing of security relations between the countries.

    China reduced its diplomatic and defence ties with Israel in 2000 following Israel's cancellation, under US pressure, of a £150m deal to sell early-warning aircraft to the Chinese Air Force.

    Since then, there have been no arms deals between the two countries but, over the past year, the relationship between the militaries and intelligence services on both sides has been warming-up. This has mainly come about as a result of China's eagerness to use Israeli counter-terrorism techniques in its campaign against Islamist terror in the north-western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. China is also interested in Israeli expertise in its efforts to update its military doctrines.

    Two months ago, Defence Minister Ehud Barak made a widely publicised visit to Beijing where, according to one of his advisers, "the Chinese treated us like royalty. They are convinced that we have superior knowledge in the fields of defence and are eager for any bit of information."

    The visit this week by General Bingde was seen as a reciprocal visit and he was taken on a tour of several military units.

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