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The Chinese have a different mentality than the Israelis and a different business culture. How do you do business in a country where not everything is as it sounds?

Like Chinese for us

The Chinese have a different mentality than the Israelis and a different business culture.

How do you do business in a country where not everything is as it sounds?

We went to ask Matan Vilnai, the president of the Chinese International University in Israel

Dr. Maya Gaz


Friday, September 30, 2022, 00:58

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Matan Vilnai (Photo: Public Relations)

The Chinese University in Petah Tikva (Photo: Public Relations)

Like Chinese for us

, the Chinese have a different mentality than the Israelis and a different business culture.

How do you do business in a country where not everything is as it sounds?

We went to ask Matan Vilnai, president of the International Chinese University in Israel

Dr. Maya Gaz

Lid: Vilnai: "We need patience and understanding that this is a different culture than ours and we need to understand what they mean.

It may be the opposite of what you think.

This is what we teach at university.

In the coming year, which is about to open, 30 Chinese students will come to our campus to help our students understand what they mean"

So and so years ago, in the midst of my IDF training, I was called to kitchen duty. As fate would have it, at the same time my headquarters conducted a rank class. At the end of my training, when I was assigned to Kriya (already in the first week of service), I was sent to give an envelope to Major General Matan Vilnai. I arrived at Major General's office according Instructions drawn up in advance and I ran into the clerk and a closed door. "Leave me the envelope," she said, but I, who had received explicit and careful instructions to give the envelope to the champion himself, informed her that I could not. I opened the door and with a confident step approached the person sitting behind the desk. After making sure He-he is the same Matan Vilnai, whose rank is "champion", and I handed him the envelope with a trembling hand, I asked him, "Who are you?" Vilnai laughed kindly.

After so many years, Vilnai is still kind and laughs again, when I tell him this story. "I never shouted at female soldiers.

Why shout at soldiers?

What's more, I'm a feminist.

I always was."

Vilnai, 78 years old, lives in Moshav Shoresh, married, father of three and grandfather of three, was already thinking of retiring, but the positions are chasing him.

He is currently the president of the first international Chinese university in Israel, a position he was offered after he returned from five years in China where he was Israel's ambassador between 2012-2017.

"The offer came when I was thinking of retiring. Nathaniel Vaknin, a well-known figure in the Chinese-Israeli scene, who was an Israeli student in China, realized that there was a potential to create a bridge between China and Israel on the academic side. By the end of the decade, China will be the greatest power in the world. The goal in opening the academic branch of UIBE University in Israel is To create an unmediated connection. This is considered an elite university and in Israel it is of course recognized by the MLA."

Petah Tikva - Beijing

Those who come to the heart of Petah Tikva, think they have come to Beijing by mistake. The look and feel of the building and the Chinese who hang around there are the reason for the confusion In practice, this is a unique institution of its kind that operates in Israel,

Chinese lecturers and professors teach alongside Israeli ones at the university.

It opened a year ago with 25 students, who have already learned to speak Chinese, 75% women and 25% men, who undergo personal interviews.

"A great group. A team in a military patrol," laughs Vilnai. This year, 100 students will study at the university. During their degree, they travel twice to China for further training and internships. At the moment, the only field of study is business administration, and later a school of law, medicine, and science and technology studies will be opened.

How much does it cost Establish a university in Israel?

"It's complicated. The question is first of all where to establish it. It was clear to me that it was impossible to run to the periphery, that I prefer the center, Gush Dan. I was looking for a city that does not have an academy. We came to Rami Greenberg, the mayor of Petah Tikva, with a Chinese delegation from the university and he He immediately understood everything. He gave us a campus of an elementary school where the population grew up, did renovations according to our request, invested millions of shekels, we brought the money given to us by the mother university in Beijing and together with it we raised the campus and started the university. We did not receive a shekel from the state."

The tuition is like that of a college and the degree given is Chinese, like the one a student receives at the mother university in Beijing.

The university works in collaboration with the Beilinson Hospital, established a book publishing house, the Chinese Film Club, a research institute, and leads the first "Tops" project of its kind that provides access to a high school academy.

"Every school day begins with Mandarin classes. The test at the end of the first semester was to present a topic for three minutes in Mandarin. A professor from Jerusalem examined them. It was impressive."

The Chinese Syndrome

Matan Vilnai was released from the IDF in 1998 after 36 years of service, entered politics for the Labor Party, was a member of the Knesset and Minister of Culture and Sports, Deputy Minister of Defense and Minister for Preparing the Homeland for War, a position that does not exist today. "After the Second Lebanon War I was a minister under Barak, Sharon, Olmert and Netanyahu," he says. He was then appointed to the position of Israel's ambassador to China, an experience that makes his eyes sparkle when he tells about it, even five years after he returned to Israel.

"It's a fascinating experience. You come across a culture you don't know and you have a huge field of action because nobody knows anything about China. There is no Facebook there because it might have foreign influence. There is WABE. I went to their offices to see how Israel looks on the Chinese Facebook. She accepted me The head of WABE and there is news in Chinese on the walls. I asked her what the most frequent search for Israel is and she answered 'Israel's ambassador to China'. As much as the Chinese are different from us, there are many things in common. China is an ancient culture like us in terms of seniority. They know how to talk about the world like we do of 3000 BC. The values ​​of Judaism and Confucius are shared, the values ​​of the family and the values ​​of studies are similar. That is why they have a huge appreciation for Judaism and the Israelis."

But they are not pro-Israel and have never voted for Israel.

"True. They always vote against us and at the same time they are our friends. Only in China can this happen. Today they are the second economic power in the world after the United States. The Americans have several essential advantages, including the initiative that comes from below, the diligence. The Chinese live in a communist society, everything It comes down from the top, so there is no initiative at the lower levels, but there are group initiatives of avant-gardes that attract Chinese innovation and lead China forward. These are people with whom we have a very strong relationship. The Chinese government is not democratic, they do not flatter their citizens as required in a democracy, people are not elected because they arranged to me, but according to their talents, and this is a government that emphasizes talent. They do wonderful things. In this matter, they don't think like us."

What does the business world look like there?

"Western. The Communist regime is totalitarian. The party is the most important factor in China. Everywhere you go, the most important person is the party secretary. In every place and in every organization there is a party man, from a city to a slaughterhouse. In every building there is a doorman who represents the party. The party is Everywhere. In the same breath they grasp the matter of capitalism and understand that in order to make economic progress you have to be a capitalist. The one who led it was Deng Xiaoping, who assimilated the concept of socialism into Chinese characteristics, which is capitalism. He was 1.52 in height with a leadership of 20 meters. He led China in -1978 and established principles then. There is always a debate whether to move forward from his principles or go back. He brought China into the competition of the free world."

How do you do business with the Chinese?

"You have to understand the culture. A Chinese will always smile at you, will never say 'no' to you, will always be polite but will always stand his ground and will not give up anything. You have to understand who you are talking to."

"You need to distinguish which rank is saying the things. You need patience and understanding that this is a different culture than ours and understanding that you need to understand what they mean. It can be the opposite of what you think. This is what we teach at the university. In the coming year that is about to open, 30 Chinese students will come to our campus to help our students Understand what they mean."

There is no anti-Semitism

Chinese culture is assimilated in Vilnius and he understands it completely and reads the signs easily.

"In China, when you stand in line, you are recognized as a tourist by your credit card. For ten years, the Chinese have been paying with their cell phones. They admire Israel because we are smart. We are a startup nation. When I heard speeches in which it was said that we rule the world and the banking world, I thought they were anti-Semitic, but they explained it to me that they admire us. The word anti-Semitism does not exist in the Chinese language at all. They are completely innocent in this area and have an admiration for us. One of the best-kept secrets in the embassy was that not all Israelis are smart. It was a state secret and it was forbidden to talk about the fact that there are also stupid Israelis. Many Nobel Prize winners from the village called Israel."

China is made up of 34 provinces, each of which has 80 million people.

It boasts a strong economy, an ancient culture and a whole world.

"Every strong province is a European country in every way. I met with every governor and party secretary, I wanted their students to know about Israel and they longed to hear how the Israelis are so smart, what their secret is. I consulted with the best scientists in Israel because I was in the past the minister of science. I asked, 'What am I? telling them?'

I built a theory that begins in Judaism, the studies in the room, the rabbi who sits, the polemic and the debate. In Chinese culture, this does not exist. The head of the party is always right. The way of the Jews is through discourse and constant bargaining. I do not sign that my explanation is correct. Einstein did not study in a room."

What is the most interesting thing you learned in China?

"I understood what Israel is. I was a general in the IDF, a member of the Knesset and a minister, but it was only in China that I realized how brilliant the younger generation in Israel is."

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