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December 26, 1986 - Image 31

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-12-26

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Israel Seeks To Boost
Ties With Asian Nations

New York — Asia is a region
of increasing economic and
geopolitical importance, and
Israel's efforts to cultivate good
relations with several Asian
nations have often been ham,
pered by Arab or Communist
pressures on those nations to
distance themselves politically
and economically from Israel,
according to a study published
by the American Jewish Com,
Harry Milkman, research
analyst in the Israel and Mid-
dle East Affairs division of
AJC's international relations
department, and Jordana
Schein-Levi, program assis-
tant to the deputy director of
the same department, authors
of Israel and Asia: A Survey of
Bilateral Relations, offer the
following accounts of Israel's
varying diplomatic and trade
relations with several Asian
Japan is Israel's largest
Asian trading partner; how-
ever, Japanese-Israeli rela-
tions reflect Japan's heavy re-
liance on Arab oil. In 1976, the
PLO was allowed to establish
an office in Tokyo. Today,
while Japan is attempting to
improve diplomatic relations,
it is still hesitant to increase
economic ties with Israel in the
face of the Arab boycott.
Hong Kong is Israel's sec-
ond largest Asian trading
partner. Full diplomatic rela-
tions have been maintained
since 1958.
Singapore is Israel's third
largest Asian trading partner.
Full diplomatic relations have
been maintained since 1969.
Singapore has supported Israel
• on a number of important UN
resolutions. At the same time,
Singapore's government is
careful not to antagonize
Malaysia, one of the most
populous Muslim nations, with
a hostile attitude toward Israel
and Jews, and upon whom it
relies heavily for its water
Thailand is Israel's fourth
largest Asian trading partner.
Thailand recognized Israel in
1950, established consular re-
lations in 1954 and embassy
status in 1958. Since then the
two countries have worked to-
gether in the areas of trade, ag-
riculture, aviation, defense
and nuclear energy. Thailand
has been somewhat supportive
of Israel in the UN.
India is Israel's fifth largest
Asian trading partner,
diamonds constituting the •
bulk of the trade. Not wanting
to alienate itself from the Arab
nations or its own 84 million
Muslim citizens India has not
established full ' diplomatic re-
lations with Israel. India has
been consistently hostile
toward Israel in the UN, and
maintains close relations with
the PLO. However, there are
cooperative efforts between Is-
rael and India in the area of
technical assistance.
South Korea is Israel's
sixth largest Asian trading.
partner. Diplomatic relations
were established in 1962 de-

spite Arab opposition. How-
ever, the Israeli embassy in
Seoul was closed in 1978 and
has not been allowed to reopen.
Once again, dependence on
Arab oil as well as profitable
construction projects in the
Arab Gulf have strained South
Korea's relations with Israel.
Israel has provided South
Korea with technical develop-
ment assistance.
People's Republic of
China was recognized by Is-
rael — one of the first Western
democracies to do so — in 1950.
Despite its relations with sev-
eral Islamic countries and its
active support of the PLO since
1965, China's attitude toward
Israel continues to show signs
of improvement. The two coun-
tries have recently been
engaged in talks regarding
cooperative projects in the
fields of agriculture and high
technology. A recent contract
calls for Israeli equipment to
be used to establish a model ir-
rigated farm in China. Al-
though China does not allow
the direct import of Israeli
goods, millions of dollars worth
of Israeli arms have reportedly
been purchased by the
Taiwan does not have for-
mal diplomatic relations with
Israel, but is engaged in some
trade and cooperative de-
velopments projects.
The Philippines formally
recognized Israel in 1949, and
*during the next twenty years
diplomatic and trade relations •
improved and expanded.
Under the Marcos regime, Is-
raeli .development projects in
the Philippines were drasti-
cally reduced, but are now
being renewed by President
Burma was the first Asian
country to recognize Israel, in
1949, and the two nations de-
veloped full diplomatic rela-
tions over the next ten years.
Israel has assisted in develop-
ing Burma's agriculture, in-
dustry and military. In recent
years, Burma has been the
most supportive Asian country
of Israel in the UN.
Nepal established full, dip-
lomatic relations with Israel in
1960 and had established sev-
eral cooperative technical and
economic projebts. Since the
Yom Kippur War. in 1973,
Arab pressure has resulted in
strained relations, although
some of the projects are still in
existence. Nepal's trade with
Israel continues on a' small
scale, and Nepal has voted in
Israel's favor on a number Of
relevant UN resolutions.
Sri Lanka voted in favor of
the 1975 UN resolution equat-
ing Zionism with racism. How-
ever, months of negotiations in
1984 resulted in the estab-
lishment of an Israeli interests
section in the U.S. embassy in
Colombo. Currently, Israel is
expected to participate in a
major Sri Lankan agricultural
development project.
Opportunities for Israel to
expand and improve its ties to
Asia are unfolding.


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