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  • Writer's pictureWatch and Pray

Israel, what are you playing at? Ditch China!

I support Israel because I am a bible believing Christian. I also like and admire Netanyahu, but lately for whatever reason, even after numerous concerns, raised by the Trump Administration and the Israeli Intelligence Service, Israel has allowed Chinese companies to take over key strategic infrastructure projects. This risk is more bewildering because of the close ties between China and North Korea, further complicated by the alliance between North Korea and Iran. The security risks are alarming. The threat that China poses to Israel’s security infrastructure should be a concern as well as the defence relationship that Israel has with the US. Of concern is the theft of intellectual property by Chinese companies which is a major point of contention between the Trump administration and Chinese government. In July 2019, the Washington Post reported that Huawei "secretly helped" North Korea to build and maintain its commercial wireless network in conjunction with Chinese state-owned enterprise Panda International Information Technology Co.

In October 2018 , after 3 years of public concerns aired by the Trump Administration and the threat of limited intelligence sharing, Israel was pressured into setting up a committee to review foreign investments into sensitive sectors to appease the US over its longstanding concerns about Chinese investment into so-called dual-use start-ups, a port in Haifa and interest by telecoms equipment groups Huawei and ZTE in expanding in Israel.

China is North Korea’s biggest trade partner and arguably has the most leverage on Kim Jong-un’s regime and dependent on Beijing for economic activity. The two countries have expanded physical links in recent years. In September 2015, they opened a bulk-cargo and container shipping route to boost North Korea’s export of coal to China, and China established a high-speed rail route between the Chinese border city of Dandong and Shenyang, the provincial capital of China’s northeastern Liaoning Province. The same year, the Guomenwan border trade zone opened in Dandong with the intention of bolstering bilateral economic exchanges, much like the Rason economic zone and the Sinujiu special administrative zone established in North Korea in the early 1990s and 2002, respectively. North Korea in turn has decades of alliance with Iran. “As Anthony H. Cordesman at the Center for Strategic and International Studies points out, there is "no reliable open-source data on exactly how Iran reached out to North Korea (or vice versa)," but the evidence of cooperation is incontrovertible. From shared Scud missile technology, to Iranian scientists present at North Korean nuclear tests, North Korea knows many of Iran's secrets and can certainly provide enough evidence to satisfy even the most skeptical members of the international community.”

Despite past difficulties, Russia has in recent years strengthen its relationship with North Korea via bilateral agreements. It is also worth pointing out that of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council included as members are China and Russia, and they have in recent years used their votes to block sanctions against North Korea, Iran and Syria. Furthermore, Russia blocks sanctions against China and vice versa.

Below are articles regarding the various investments by China in Israel and the voices of concern been raised by the Trump Administration and the Israeli Intelligence Service:

US To Israel: No More Chinese Deals; Pompeo’s Flying Visit

May 2020 - “Government officials and private sector experts estimate that Chinese investment in Israel has reached 40 billion shekels ($11.4 billion) over the years. Chinese companies bought one of Israel’s largest dairy products companies, and have won tenders and operating franchises to build the Carmel tunnels in Haifa, the Ashdod and Haifa ports and the Tel Aviv Light Train…. The light train now being built passes close to Kirya, the site that includes the Ministry of Defense, IDF headquarters and the air force’s high command.”

US said to question China’s role in bid to construct Israeli desalination plant

May 2020 - Hong Kong construction company will be allowed to build and control almost a quarter of Israel’s water needs until 2049. The plant’s intended location, near the Israeli military base of Palmachim, also perturbed US officials, particularly as American soldiers regularly spend time on the base during tests of Israeli weapons systems developed with US aid. The desalination plant, Sorek B, remained outside the scope of the foreign investment advisory committee because the tender for the project was published earlier, before the committee was formed.

The assistant US secretary of state David Schenker was recently quoted as saying that “The business with the Chinese is an issue of concern for us with Israel,”. The US wants trade and investment on fair and reciprocal terms with reliable partners. China’s business dealings, by contrast, are opaque, transactional and geared to benefit the Chinese Communist party.”

How did China Win Over the Israeli People?

February 2020 - The explanation for how China is gaining a positive public opinion in Israel — unlike in the majority of Western countries — is due to the successful deployment of China’s “soft power” toward the Israeli public.[2] ….. Between 2004 and 2007, China-Israel bilateral trade surged from $2.4 billion to more than $5.3 billion.[4] It was during this period that Chinese soft power was deployed in Israel. In 2007, the Chinese established the first Confucius Institute in Israel at Tel Aviv University.[5] Eight years later, a second Confucius Institute was established, on the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.[6]…… In November 2017, the Chinese government continued its mission to appeal to the Israeli public and set up — with considerable investment — the China Cultural Center at Ramat Hahayal in Tel Aviv.

Chinese Corporation Wants to Regain Control of Israeli Partner Cellular Firm

November 2019 - Chinese corporation Hutchinson is planning to return to Israel’s cellular communications market by taking control of Partner again, some 10 years after it sold its controlling share in that company for billions of shekels in profit. Hutchinson is waiting for approval from Israel’s regulator. This time, it is planning a strategic, long-term investment in Partner……. When this happens, four of Israel’s major cellular communications companies will be controlled by non-Israelis.

Foreign Investment Oversight in Israel: In the Footsteps of the US

October 2019 - the Israeli Security Cabinet announced the establishment of an advisory committee to consider national security issues throughout the approvals process for foreign investment in Israel. This widely is regarded as a result of a US pressure campaign on its allies around the world to follow its lead and establish oversight committees for inbound foreign investment.

Why is Israel outsourcing its national infrastructure to China?

August 2019 - It was reported recently that Israel Electric Corp will sell its Alon Tavor power plant to a group that includes China Harbour Engineering for 1.87 billion shekels ($523 million). The group — also comprised of Mivtach Shamir Holdings and Rapac Energy — won a tender for the plant in the wake of a government reform from 2018 that opens the electricity sector to competition and breaks up the monopoly held by IEC, Israel’s state-owned utility.

Shin Bet chief said to warn Chinese investment in Israel poses security threat

January 2019, Nadav Argaman says Israel needs to put in place an oversight mechanism to prevent Chinese companies taking over key strategic infrastructure; US also urges Israel to act.

U.S. Officials Wary of Chinese Involvement in Israeli Infrastructure Projects, Tech Sector

January 2019 - the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette warned Israeli officials that the U.S. may limit intelligence sharing with the Jewish State if no steps are taken to regulate foreign investments

Tencent to Launch WeChat Payment Service in Israel

November 2018 - AliPay, WeChat Pay's main competitor in China, began offering its services to Chinese tourists visiting Israel in January. China-based Tencent Holdings Ltd. intends to launch its popular payment service WeChat Pay in Israel, according to three people familiar with the matter who spoke with Calcalist on conditions of anonymity. The company was in talks with a local clearing company and is considering the strategy for the local launch of the service, intended for tourists coming from China, one of these people said.

Officials warn of risks in warming business ties with China

14 October 2018 - Ahead of a state visit to Israel next week by a senior Chinese official – the most high-ranking to visit the country in years – Israeli defense officials have flagged burgeoning trade with the Asian giant as a possible security risk. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who last year met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing and is keen on further building up the commercial ties, has reportedly been less than eager to create a government agency that would provide more rigorous oversight of trade. Wang Qishan will be highest-ranked China official to come to Jewish state in over a decade; Alibaba CEO Jack Ma to be keynote speaker at October 24-25 event. On a visit to China in 2017, Netanyahu called trade relations between the two countries “a marriage made in heaven.”

Li Ka-shing leads flood of Chinese investment into Israel

July 2017 - Asia’s richest man, Hong Kong-based tycoon Li Ka-shing, has invested heavily in Israeli Research and Development; to date, he has invested in at least 28 high-tech companies in Israel. Of the startups funded by his company, Horizon, over one third is Israeli. Examples of Horizon’s funding include the Israeli firm Corephotonics, which designs dual-lens systems for cell-phone cameras, and the Israeli bio-tech firm Kaiima, which designs products to increase agricultural sustainability.

The Israel-China-U.S. Triangle and the Haifa Port Project

“In March 2015, Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG) won the tender to operate the northern port in Haifa, a facility being built by Ashtrom Group and Shapir Engineering.[1] In July 2018, management of the first part of the new port was transferred to SIPG, which produced an unexpected backlash throughout the Israeli media…. Israel’s submarine fleet is based at Haifa, which is also a port of call for the U.S. Sixth Fleet. Thus, ceding control of these ports to a foreign entity — in this instance, a Chinese company — entails risks that are, or should be, plainly evident.”

Israel, China to open $300 million research center

2014 - Tel Aviv University and Beijing’s Tsinghua University set up a joint high-tech joint research center, tapping into Israel’s and Chinese know-how to bring new innovation to medical technology and to finding solutions to pressing environmental problems. “Beijing’s Tsinghua University to invest $300 million to establish the XIN Research Center, intended to research early-stage and mature technologies in biotech, solar energy, water and environmental technologies.”

Former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy warns against China's ...

5 Oct 2013 - Mossad has warned the country's leadership against involving China in a major railway project as it could lead to a crisis in relations with US.

Further articles relating to the Israeli-China Business Relations is covered here.

Despite China’s nefarious activities and its human rights violations, the Western governments, and more recently the Middle Eastern countries continue to form close ties with China, even though China has held over 1m Uyghurs in prison camps and forced labour.

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