Friday, April 11, 2014, 09:21
Chinese visitors' visa process to improve: Peres
By Zhou Wa

Chinese visitors' visa process to improve: Peres

Israeli President Shimon Peres' Sina Weibo page

Israeli President Shimon Peres said the visa application process for Chinese tourists will be improved in the future as he welcomed more travelers from China during a live online interview with Chinese netizens via Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter, on Thursday.

Peres began his visit to China on Tuesday and is the first foreign leader to visit the Chinese Internet giant Sina Corp for a live online interview.

Given the fact that getting a visa to Israel is a complicated process for Chinese tourists, Peres said that "the situation will be changing in the future" and emphasized the importance of people-to-people exchanges.

"I've seen a lot of things in China which cannot be seen in Israel. I hope Chinese tourists can see something unique in the Israeli culture when they come to Israel. We can lift cooperation in the (tourism) field to a new level in the future," he said.

He said Chinese people and Jews are both ancient peoples and they have many common characteristics, adding that both Chinese and Israeli people attach importance to their traditional cultures and value education.

When asked in the online chat about Israel's restrictions on Chinese exports, Peres said China-Israel trade cooperation on high-tech products is important to bilateral cooperation and ties. He said exporting high-tech equipment to China needs greater efforts from both sides.

In recent years, Chinese companies have built research centers in Israel and have acquired Israeli companies, a move that Israel welcomes "full-heartedly", Peres said during a meeting with Chinese leaders earlier this week.

There has been substantial cooperation between each nation since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1992. Bilateral trade between Israel and China reached a record high of more than $10 billion in 2013.

When asked to explain his concept of a "new Middle East" during the online chat, Peres offered a vision of a Middle East united by a common market that will eventually bring peace. He also said that China is important because of its large and strong economy, research and development capabilities and vast market.

He said he told many of his friends in the Middle East that China is different from many powers that aim to exploit energy resources in the region. Peres told netizens that China comes to Israel with its dream of peace, hope and knowledge.

Peres served twice as the prime minister of Israel and twice as interim prime minister. He also served as deputy prime minister, defense minister, foreign minister and finance minister during his political career spanning over 60 years.

He has opened an account with Sina Weibo, joining British Prime Minister David Cameron, European Council President Herman van Rompuy and nearly 200 other foreign top leaders and diplomats from international organizations.