Two cosmopolitan thinkers

Published on 04/01 2019  Source: China Daily

China and Israel have vibrant innovation cultures and there is great synergy between them in terms of innovation, technology and know-how

Global digital cultures in the 21st century require an additional dose of cosmopolitan thinking compared to what we may have seen in the past.

And the new cosmopolitans demonstrate genuine open-mindedness and acceptance of the new diversity of skill sets today's organizations and the world need.

Vice-President Wang Qishan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year co-hosted the Israel Innovation Summit for a Better World: For Man, Society and the Environment, attended by leading figures in Israeli innovation, as well as prominent global scientific and business leaders and a number of exceptionally creative minds.

The summit focused on three main issues:

Innovation for Human Sustainability: In a world where human life expectancy is on the rise, are we capable of providing for a healthy and meaningful life through the age of 120?

Innovation for Social Sustainability: How do we keep society safe in a connected world?

Innovation for Global Sustainability: In a world supporting 9 billion people, how can we ensure that each individual enjoys enough food, water, clean air, energy, and shelter?

It did not come as a surprise that during the conference, Israel and China signed eight agreements on science and technology, biotechnology, innovation, digital health and agriculture, as well as a plan for innovation to 2021.

There is a great synergy between Israel and China as potential suppliers of innovation, technology and know-how.

Israel has become a global center with a vibrant innovation culture based on interdisciplinary capabilities, the spirit of entrepreneurship and strong technical skills.

Today, barely 70 years old and with a population of just 8.5 million, the state of Israel ranks among the world's eight most innovative nations.

Israel aims to reinforce research infrastructure in AI fields in academia and to turn Israeli research universities into AI excellence centers. Currently, the most advanced AI algorithms are being developed by academia, and serve as the basis for groundbreaking applications in industry.

Recognizing that the rapid development of AI will revolutionize humankind and the world, the Chinese government has launched a program aimed at seizing the strategic opportunities created by developments in AI to give China a competitive edge.

In August 2016, the Chinese government announced a new program to promote innovation in the country and turn China into a world power in technology and science. The program is of the utmost importance since innovation and technological progress will be China's new growth engines.

According to the 2018 World Intellectual Property Organization report, China remained the main driver of global growth in intellectual property filings. From already high levels, patent filings in China grew by 14.2 percent and trademark filing activity in China increased by 55.2 percent. These high growth rates propelled the nation's shares of global patent filings and trademarks filing activity to reach 43.6 percent and 46.3 percent, respectively.

By revitalizing the Silk Road that thousands of years ago - reshaped much of the world's commerce and culture - China's Belt and Road Initiative focuses on connecting countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East through overland and maritime routes. So far, it covers more than 70 countries, accounting for about 65 percent of the world's population and around one-third of the world's GDP.

China is Israel's second-largest trading partner, with the trade volume in goods reaching $9.67 billion in 2017. In the first half of last year, there was a significant increase in exports to China, which stood at $2.8 billion - up 73 percent, compared to the first half of 2017. Israel wants to finalize a free-trade agreement with China in 2019. Discussions began in 2016 and are now in their final stage.

China is an important market for Israeli goods and services which are helping to transform China's economy and raise the level of its manufacturing industry.

Israel is also an important market for Chinese investment in high-tech sectors such as internet security, AI, big data and medical science, as well as a desert agriculture and water management. Seven large Chinese companies, including Alibaba, Huawei and Lenovo, have set up innovation and research centers in Israel.

Chinese companies are also building large infrastructure projects, such as the greater Tel Aviv metropolitan light railway and new ports in Ashdod and Haifa. Last November, Chinese companies set up the Chinese Enterprise Association in Israel to promote ties with the government and institutions.

In the first three quarters of 2018, Israeli startups raised $325 million from Chinese investors - up 37 percent from the same period in 2017.

People-to-people contacts are also growing. More than 1,000 Chinese students are learning at the Asia Research Centers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University and Bar-Ilan University.

Tech industries, education and art today are more global than ever before. Capital, people, services and products are traversing borders at an amazing rate.

Scientific inquiry is one of the unique traits that define us as a very special species. We would like to envision - not only hope for - a world where these kind of ties between countries' brilliant minds focus on scientific achievements that center on human well-being.

Both China and Israel share the vision that innovation is a key engine for economic growth and well-being, and that people in all spheres of life should benefit from it.(Source: China Daily)