WHEN PRIME Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited him to be Israel’s ambassador to China in 2012, Matan Vilnai already had a decorated career as a cabinent minister, military general and Knesset member. But there was one hole in his resumé.
“I knew nothing at all about China,” Amb. Vilnai reveals in an exclusive interview from his Beijing office.
To prepare for his current role, Vilnai embarked on an intensive six-month study program that included basic Mandarin, the official language of China. His teacher, Shalva Jin — an Israeli Jewish woman of Chinese descent — traces her heritage to the ancient Kaifeng Jewish community. She made aliyah in 2000.