In China, Jews are widely perceived as clever and accomplished, and these are meant as compliments. Scan the shelves in any bookstore in China and you are likely to find best-selling self-help books such as 101 Money Earning Secrets from Jews’ Notebooks and Learn to Make Money with the Jews. The Chinese recognize, and embrace, common characteristics between their culture and Jewish culture. Both have a large diaspora. Both place emphasis on family, tradition, and education. Both boast civilizations that date back thousands of years.
Prof. Xu Xin, 65, launched the Institute of Jewish and Israel Studies at Nanjing University in 1992, once diplomatic relations between Israel and China were established. Today there are more than half a dozen similar programs across the country, many started by Xu’s former students. One course at the institute is “Jewish Culture and World Civilization,” which attracts 200 undergraduate students per term. He is the author of the best-selling A History of Jewish Culture, and translated the Encyclopedia Judaica into Chinese. The institute is funded largely by foreign Jewish donors.
Chinese state media has long championed positive portrayals of the Jews, in part because Judaism, with its ethnically-based and non-evangelical nature, has proved less of a threat to the Communist Party than other foreign monotheistic religions, like Christianity or Islam. Read more about it here.