Universities from Beijing and Tel Aviv have announced plans to build a new joint research center.
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Tel Aviv University and Beijing’s Tsinghua University have announced plans to exchange graduate students and faculty members who will work at a joint research center. The center will be dedicated to the study of nanotechnologies, specifically in the area of medical and optics applications. The program may eventually be expanded to include raw materials, water treatment and environmental issues.
The center will be called the Xin Center and is to cost $300 million. Xin is the Chinese word for new and the center will advance interdisciplinary research, provide optimal conditions for creativity, and promote activity in fields that can truly impact society in both countries and the entire world.
In a press conference to announce the new project, the president of Tel Aviv University, Joseph Klaffer, said that funding will be obtained from both private and government sources and that they have already raised about a third of the needed money. He said, “It’s an unprecedented agreement in size and scope. It was built from the bottom up because it started with our scientists meeting and falling in love with each other.”
Chen Jining, the president of Tsinghua University said, “We have collaborations with many other universities around the world, but this is the first that is so in-depth and innovative.”
Last September the two men signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Beijing in the presence of Israel Ambassador to China Matan Vilnai, Chief Scientist of the Israeli Ministry of Economy Avi Hasson and leaders of the Israeli business community in the city. The MOU called for both Tel Aviv University and Tsinghua University to pursue strategic cooperation in innovative research and teaching. The two universities agreed then to establish the XIN Center, as an international hub for scientific and technical innovation.
Israel would benefit from gaining access to China’s huge market place for its exports. The Chinese, at the same time, hope to learn from Israeli expertise in high tech, agriculture and water desalination.
Trade between Israel and China grew to $8.4 billion in 2013, up from $6.7 billion in 2010. Chinese companies have invested in Israeli firms and are interested in being involved in the building of a new rail cross Israel line to link the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.
China certainly has plenty of money to spend in Israel, having a huge trade surplus with the United States and holding trillions in US Dollars.
This is not the first such joint venture between Israeli and Chinese institutions of higher learning. In 2012, Israel’s Technion in Haifa entered into a similar arrangement with the Shantou University in China’s southern Guangdong province. The two schools agreed to a $150 million Israel-China academic project that will create of the Technion-Guangdong Institute of Technology at Shantou University.