Is this the beginning of a new era in
defence relations between China and Israel?
The visit this week of Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak to China has a meaning but it's very early to know exactly what it is.
The defence relations between the two countries were cut some years ago, after Israel angered the US through two incidents involving the sale of Israeli air systems to China.
The first was the sale of an Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Phalcon type airborne early warning (AEW) system to China. Washington foiled the deal after the aircraft was ready for delivery, and the Israeli government in 2002 agreed to pay $350 million to China as compensation for the scrapped contract.
The Phalcon AEW deal was followed in 2005 by a deal to upgrade the IAI Harpy attack drones that were sold to China many years ago. Washington was angered by the deal and put a heavy lid on the sale of additional military hardware to China.
The two incidents occurred against a background of media reports that the Chinese J-10 fighter "resembled" the IAI Lavi fighter that ended in the junkyard as a result of very heavy pressure from Washington. The Lavi programme was brought to an end in 1987.
Barak's visit this week is the first of its
kind after a few years of complete detachment.
Israeli observers said that it is unlikely that Washington will take the leash off the Israeli defence industries' necks in relation to the Chinese market, but they added it could signal that a change is on the horizon.
It will take some time until we are able to see if something really has changed in the situation that hermetically sealed the Chinese defence market for the Israeli aerospace and defence industries.