China's vice president kicks off innovation summit in Israel

China’s Vice President Wang Qishan, right, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tour the Israeli Innovation Summit in Jerusalem, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, Pool)

China's vice president and Israel's prime minister have kicked off a joint innovation summit — where the two countries are working to cement their fast-growing relationship.

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Wang Qishan and Benjamin Netanyahu toured a number of exhibits by high-tech Israeli start-ups focused on self-driving cars, health care and agriculture. They were scheduled to attend an evening gala event and the opening of an Israeli innovation center on Thursday.

Wang, a close confidant of President Xi Jinpin, is one of the most senior Chinese officials to visit Israel since the countries established diplomatic relations in 1992.

China has become Israel's third largest trading partner, behind only the U.S. and the European Union. Israel exported $2.8 billion to China in the first half of 2018, an 80% jump from last year.

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