More than 60 Israeli companies－including the self-driving car firm Mobileye purchased by Intel in a $15 billion deal earlier this year－gathered in Mianyang, Sichuan province, from Thursday to Saturday for a major high-tech expo.
"It"s a record number of Israeli companies participating in any expo in China," said Amir Lati, consul general of the Israeli consulate general in Chengdu, Sichuan.
"As the co-host country for the 2017 China (Mianyang) International Science and Technology Expo, we have brought the firms for business-to-business cooperation," Lati said.
The expo, the fifth annual event, was attended by 11 Chinese State-owned military equipment manufacturers and over 700 firms in total from more than 40 countries, according to the Sichuan government.
As a tradition of the event, a foreign country is highlighted as the guest of honor. That went to Israel this year, which marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of its diplomatic ties with China.
"Over the years, we have discovered the many ways in which our countries complement each other in areas such as science and technology, innovation and R&D," said Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, in his letter of congratulation for the expo.
Premier Li Keqiang said in his letter that a rapidly developing China hopes to cooperate more with other countries on science and technology innovation.
"As 2017 is the first year of the China-Israel comprehensive innovation partnership, I hope the expo can serve as a chance for more exchanges of innovation strategies, opinions and cooperation," Li said.
President Xi Jinping and Netanyahu agreed to build the new partnership in March during Netanyahu"s visit to China, which is Israel"s third-largest trade partner.
Chinese companies invested $39.87 million in Israel in the first half of the year, according to the Israeli consulate general. And the Israeli investment in China is also growing, Lati said.
Currently, Israel"s largest investment in China is from Israeli Chemicals, at around $600 million in Yunnan province. It was also at the expo.
An Israeli consulate general in Chengdu was established in 2014 to cover China"s southwest region, which includes Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan provinces and Chongqing municipality.
Israel saw a need for the new consulate because it thinks the region has great potential to promote the two countries" mutual ties, according to Lati.
On Thursday, Sichuan province and the Israeli consulate agreed on an action plan to promote cooperation in 10 industries, including electronic information, artificial intelligence, new-energy vehicles and aerospace.
Backed by the Chinese military and its science and technology authorities, the Mianyang expo is a major player in promoting coordinated development of military and civilian industries.