Israel and China: from the Tang Dynasty to Silicon Wadi
異地吾鄉 – 猶太人在中國
The Jews first arrived in China during the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD) and settled as businessmen, civil servants and professionals. They assimilated into Chinese society and lost their Jewish character. The next wave came in the mid-19th century with the opening of the treaty ports and settled in Shanghai. They went into trading, especially opium, and diversified into property, manufacturing, finance, public transport and retail. Another Jewish community settled in Harbin after the opening of the China Eastern Railway in 1903. They also prospered in trading and business. Both communities built synagogues, schools, social clubs and welfare institutions. During World War Two, 25,000 Jews from Nazi-occupied Europe took refuge in Shanghai, one of the few cities in the world open to them. Many received visas from Asian diplomats who defied their governments to issue them. The Japanese military refused the Nazi demand to carry out ‘the final solution’ of the Jews in Shanghai. After 1945, inflation, civil war and Communist rule made most Jews leave China for new homes in Israel, North America, Australia and elsewhere.