America’s greatest ally. Right?
Not so fast.
According to a report by Breaking Defense, Israel refused a recent request by the American government to inspect a new port in the city of Haifa that China helped build. SIPG, a Chinese company, will operate this port for the next 25 years.
This move has opened up discussions about Israel’s intriguing relationship with China, which comes at a time when the U.S. is involved in an ever-increasing case of security competition with the East Asian nation.
Since China went from a Maoist disaster and transitioned towards a mixed economy, the country has sought all sorts of trading partners. Israel became one of those partners after China kicked off formal diplomatic relations with the Jewish state in 1992.
China tends to be inclusive in its dealings with Middle Eastern countries. In other words, it tries to be friendly with all states. Even with countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, who are engaged in a proxy conflict of their own, China tries to maintain cordial relations with both countries despite their ongoing conflicts.
The Chinese have also served as mediators between the Israelis and Palestinians in their dispute. From the late 1970s until the 1990s, China and Israel entered a number of arms deals, which caught the U.S.’s attention. Even worse, Israel has a long history of selling U.S. military secrets to China. Yet, there is little talk in national security circles about the Israeli-China partnership that could potentially undermine American interests.
According to Rupert Stone of the Middle East Eye, “By the mid-2000s, military ties had flatlined, and the relationship focused more on economic cooperation” after the U.S. caught wind of Israel’s exploitation of its China ties.
However, the Israeli-China connection has remained intact. When tensions between former American President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu started to mount and Europe’s economy began to slow down during the Great Recession, Israel began looking to its east. Netanyahu went on a state visit to China in 2013 and two years later joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which China dominates. The U.S. did not approve of this move. To top it off, Netanyahu signed 10 agreements in Beijing.
The U.S. has made somewhat of an effort to address Israel’ questionable ties with China. The China virus compelled the U.S. to take a much harder stance against China and make sure its own allies are not completely under China’s thumb. If the U.S.’s allies are under substantial Chinese influence, American interests could be substantially undermined in the long-term.
This explains why Secretary of State Mike Pompeo paid a brisk visit to Israel back in May 13, 2020, to discuss China’s growing influence and other issues with Netanyahu’s new government. For instance, Israel seemed to yield to American demands after it did not grant a contract for a desalination plant to a Hong Kong-based company and instead opted to award the contract to a domestic firm. Additionally, Huawei is not being used in Israel’s 5G network tender.
Trade between China and Israel has increased significantly over the years. According to Rupert Stone, Israel’s exports to China grew fourfold. China is Israel’s second-biggest trading partner. Israelis view China in a very positive light. For instance, 66% of Israelis hold China in high esteem. On the other hand, 26% of the Israeli public views China positively
Various Chinese companies are actively setting up infrastructure projects in Israel. From the looks of it, the Chinese want to add Israel to its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a connection of land and sea routes that China is spearheading. Several years ago, Shanghai International Port Group received a contract to operate the Haifa container port, beginning in 2021. Similarly, another Chinese company was awarded a contract to run the Ashdod port. These contracts have generated significant controversy. Take for example, the case of the Haifa terminal. It’s next to an Israeli naval base, where the U.S. Sixth Fleet frequently docks its ships at.
As far as technology goes, Chinese companies such as Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent have invested in Israeli’s “Silicon Wadi”, the Israeli version of Silicon Valley, in an effort to put China on the path to being a technological titan through its Made in China 2025 initiative.
According to Stone, Chinese investment in the Israel tech sector increased tenfold from 2015 to 2016. In 2017, Alibaba set up a research center in Tel Aviv. Allegedly, high-ranking government officials from both countries have forged an innovation partnership. A general fear among cybersecurity experts is that Chinese investment in the Israeli tech sector could have Israel and the U.S. susceptible to Chinese cyber attacks and other forms of espionage. Certain tech stalwarts like ZTE, a firm with strong ties to the Chinese Communist Party, has key investments in Israel.
Hypothetically speaking, a deterioration in American-Israeli relations could see Israel pivoting towards China for trade and other forms of cooperation, all at Americans’ expense. There was already a case earlier this month where Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security services) busted a ring of Israeli aerospace engineers who sold advanced Israeli missile technology to China for millions of dollars.
20 Israeli nationals were involved in this illegal trade of missiles. Even more curious, these individuals served in the IDF in intelligence and weapons development roles. Other members of the criminal ring worked for Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), while some ring members were employed in Israeli companies that produce missiles. One could only imagine what would happen if these missiles were American in origin and ended up being sold to the Chinese.
As mentioned before, Israel is willing to take American tech and sell it to China. If the U.S. doesn’t review its relationship with both China and Israel, it will continue to be exploited by these countries. China and Israel are host to parasitic cultures and in many regards their cooperation is a match made in heaven. If U.S. leaders were smart, they would completely ban immigration from Israel and China, end all forms of military aid to Israel, and decouple from China’s economy.
America is not a shopping mall that predatory ethnic groups can freely exploit.