Despite vast differences in size, China and Israel share several challenges, water scarcity being among the most critical.
Israel has struggled since its inception in 1948 with an ongoing battle for water. Similarly, China has just suffered its worst drought in 50 years, causing winter wheat crops to fail and threatening the spring planting season.
Through its long struggle with the desert, Israel has managed to become a world leader in innovative water management, harnessing its technological know-how to meet its agricultural needs.
Whether managing large water projects in North America, Europe, and the Asia Pacific regions, or helping set up irrigation networks in the developing world, Israeli companies and technology can be found all over the world. In light of this expertise, it is no surprise China has chosen to partner with Israel to meet its current water challenges head-on.
Israel's expertise in water technologies includes desalination, advanced irrigation, water recycling and water management. With a population of just over 7 million, Israel has some 166 water tech enterprises, including 91 companies offering water efficiency solutions, 50 firms specializing in wastewater reuse and desalination, and another 25 offering water control and command systems.
Israel is home to the three largest desalination plants in the world. The array of established industries, fledgling startups and government-sponsored initiatives has made Israel a go-to country for water technology.
With its wheat crops in danger, an ongoing drought in the north, growing desertification and environmental challenges, China needs large-scale solutions, and Israeli technology offers just that.
But China's partnership with Israel over water-related issues is hardly new. In a recent venture, the Chinese company Haier partnered with an Israeli firm to produce high-quality drinking water via an end-user filter system.
Israeli technology was also recently used to build a huge reverse osmosis desalination plant in Tianjin. The plant can produce 200,000 cubic meters of water daily, and aside from water, it also produces table salt and contributes to energy savings.
Advanced irrigation technology from Israel has been introduced to farms in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region as a means of saving up to 40 percent of water without reducing agricultural yield. In 1997, China, following Israeli advice, began using wastewater heat to help power its thermal desalination units to save energy and minimize pollution created by the desalination process.
Israeli technology has been used to make automated, wireless water meters and water management systems to monitor and control water running through Chinese pipes. An Israeli firm has been contracted to provide wastewater treatment to Shandong and Hebei provinces, Tianjin and the west Yangtze River area in Sichuan Province.
Moreover, numerous Chinese delegations from all levels of both private and public sectors have visited Israel to meet with Israeli experts over water-related subjects.
They and hundreds of others from all around the world will fly to Israel in November this year to attend Israel's biannual WATEC water technologies convention, which showcases Israel's diverse expertise in water technology. Many high-level Chinese officials regularly attend this event.
As the world's highest reuser of greywater and the builder of the world's largest desalination plants, Israel has much to offer China by way of water-related solutions. China is only growing faster, which translates into an increased need for water management expertise and technology.
According to Chinese government plans, 300 million people are slated to move from rural areas to urban areas over the next few years. This migration will place great pressure on existing infrastructures and water systems and calls for innovative solutions. Israel offers just such solutions.
The great potential for partnership between Israel and China over water-related issues is already being realized, but the future holds even more opportunities for such cooperation.
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