A Chinese tech investment group has invited Israeli startups to pitch their companies at Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Tel Aviv Campus on January 15 to a panel of investors and professionals from both countries.
The committee will select 10 startups to present their pitch live online to Zhongguancun Private Equity & Venture Capital Association’s (ZVCA) annual conference. ZVCA has over 1,000 members and $15 billion in assets under its management.
Meanwhile, Chinese state media is reporting the government intends to start negotiations for a free trade deal with Israel this year. China – the world’s second largest economy – has been aggressively pursuing closer diplomatic and economic ties with Israel in recent years. China’s attention has been particularly focused on the vibrant technology industry that has won Israel the nicknames of Startup Nation and Silicon Wadi.
The Israeli government has welcomed China’s interest with open arms. Israel’s Economy Minister Naftali Bennett described the two countries “natural partners for technological and business cooperation” during a visit to China in late November.
In addition, bilateral trade surpassed $8 billion last year. Israel’s blossoming trade with China contrasts with the threat of boycotts from Europe and the United States over the lack of progress in talks with the Palestinians.
However, Israeli companies remain concerned by Chinese threats to intellectual property. Last year, Maryland-based security firm Cyber Engineering Services, Inc. (CES) accused the People’s Liberation Army Unit 61398 – state-sponsored hackers going by the alias of Comment Crew – of stealing sensitive information from 2011 to 2012 from three Israeli defense companies responsible for the Iron Dome anti-missile system.
The U.S. Justice Department indicted five prominent military members of the group last May on charges of economic espionage for hacking several American companies. As the United States has the power to veto defense deals involving American technology, Israeli companies are likely to proceed cautiously in seeking Chinese funding.