Former Israel President Shimon Peres, Secretary of the CPC Guangdong Province Committee Hu Chunhua, Li Ka-shing. (Government of Guangdong Province) (Government of Guangdong Province)
GTIIT Technion China

Israel’s Technion made history when it launched the first Israeli university in China, marking a new era in the close relationship between the two countries. 

The Haifa-based Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, a global leader in science and technology education, broke ground on Wednesday to launch the Guangdong Technion Israel Institute of Technology (GTIIT) in Shantou, China located in Guangdong Province.

GTIIT, an historic partnership between the Technion and Shantou University, will offer high-level, innovative and research-oriented undergraduate and graduate education.

The ground-breaking ceremony was attended by former Israeli President Shimon Peres, Technion President Peretz Lavie, Technion Distinguished Professor and Nobel Laureate Aaron Ciechanover; and Ofir Akunis, Israel’s Minister of Science, Technology and Space, among other dignitaries.

GTIIT marks a new era of cooperative research between Israel and China in science, engineering and the life sciences. For the Chinese, the GTIIT brings “the Technion’s expertise on creating a top-notch technical institute, as well as a stimulating dose of Israeli-style entrepreneurialism on a strategic level,” the Technion said in a statement.

“Our unprecedented collaboration will be truly transformational for the Technion, Shantou and Chinese education. The combination of the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of Israel and the unbelievable scale and resources of China will result in a great partnership. Together we will create a major research institute that will help not only China and Israel, but also mankind in general,” said Lavie.

GTIIT Technion China

The ground-breaking ceremony. (Government of Guangdong Province)

Addressing the ceremony, Peres said that “the establishment of a Technion campus in China is one more proof that Israeli innovation is breaking down geographic borders. China is one of Israel’s major partners in technology and hi-tech and more than 1,000 Israeli companies are active in China. I hope that the economic cooperation between the two countries will continue to expand, as both countries have much to share with, and learn from, one another.”

“This is an unprecedented achievement for the Israeli academia, which in fact opens up an Israeli university in China,” said Akunis. “I see a strategic importance in strengthening and deepening our relations with China in all aspects: economically, technologically and scientifically. One of the major goals I set when I took office is strengthening and encouraging cooperation between Israeli and Asian countries that have a great deal of respect towards Israeli innovation, science and high-tech industry.””

Common Aspirations and Shared Objectives

“This week, Shantou became Haifa’s fourth twin city,” said Yona Yahav, Mayor of Haifa. “The connection between Shantou and Haifa is unique due to the high involvement of Haifa in the Chinese economy. The ecosystem of economic cooperation between higher education and entrepreneurship, as exists in the case of the Technion and Haifa, is a successful model that the Chinese wish to implement in Shantou. The Haifa municipality sees national importance in advancing the cooperation and strengthening of ties between China and Israel. “

“I want to thank the Israeli Government and the colleagues at the Technion. China and Israel share the common aspiration of facilitating the progress of human civilization through science and technology,” said Li Jiange, inaugural President of GTIIT.

For the Technion, the GTIIT means increased global reach and stature. The investment in this collaboration will also benefit the research facilities and infrastructure at the Technion’s Haifa campus. It will also form an anchor in the Far East that complements the Technion’s partnership with Cornell University at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech in New York City. Finally, an industrial park planned for the GTIIT campus will serve as a foothold for Israeli companies to crack key markets in the US and China.

GTIIT will open with the College of Engineering, the College of Science, and the College of Life Science, and will eventually include chemical engineering, materials engineering, environmental engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry, mathematics, physics, biotechnology and food engineering, biology, and biochemical engineering.

The first class of students is planned for 2016 with an initial enrollment plan of 100 students for chemical engineering. Eventually, the GTIIT is expected to enroll some 5000 students made up of 4000 undergraduate and 1000 graduate students.