The Republic of China and the Jewish state share much in common: both were founded in the 1940s, both are small democracies that punch above their weight economically, both are U.S. allies, and both have spent their entire existence under the threat of destruction from larger powers. Nonetheless, the two do not have formal diplomatic relations. Roie Yellinek explains why this is so, and argues that it should not be an obstacle to informal friendliness:
Both Israel and Taiwan struggle for international recognition, yet have not recognized one another. This is essentially because the Israelis want a positive relationship with Beijing and the Taiwanese want a positive relationship with the Arab world.
The countries started inching toward each other in the 1980s and picked up the pace in the 1990s. In 1993 (a year after Israel and China established diplomatic relations), the Ministry of Economy and Trade of Taipei opened in Tel Aviv, and Israel opened an equivalent ministry in Taipei. This was the start of the relationship, but it took a decade for the connection to flourish. Israel and Taiwan have now signed more than 30 trade agreements, including a technology-cooperation agreement (2006) . . . and a water-cooperation agreement (2011).
Israel is famous for its agricultural technology, an area of expertise that is even more attractive for Taipei. Taiwan’s challenges in this field include a lack of sufficient land worthy of cultivation as well as changes in population composition through aging and urbanization, which are causing manpower shortages in agriculture. Israeli agricultural technology is supporting Taiwanese efforts to develop “smart agriculture” to mitigate these problems.