Israel Is Not Going Wobbly on China

(National Review) Alex Nulman - In a speech to Israel's Knesset on May 1, 2023, U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy warned of the threats of cyberespionage and intellectual property theft from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and urged Israel to increase its oversight of foreign investments, given its extensive economic cooperation with China. Yet Israel shares concerns about China's role and has made efforts to show that skepticism about its economic relations with Beijing is misplaced. The U.S. and Israel maintain a solid economic partnership, with trade between the countries reaching $31.7 billion in 2021. China is Israel's largest trading partner in Asia, with annual trade reaching $20 billion in 2021, up from just $250 million in the 1990s. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear to the Chinese that many vital technologies, such as semiconductor-chip design and manufacturing, as well as defense and military technologies, are off-limits to them, as Washington has been and will continue to be its main partner. But the civil benefits that Israeli innovation in pharmaceuticals, energy, agriculture, water, and food technology can provide the 1.4 billion Chinese should be no threat to Washington as long as Jerusalem does its due diligence. From Israel's point of view, establishing friendly relations with nations big and small has immense value, but Israel knows this goal cannot come at the price of its closeness with the U.S. Jerusalem vowed in 2021 to inform Washington in advance of any significant investment deals it might make with Beijing and signaled its willingness to reconsider if necessary. Israel is also taking a more deliberate role in overseeing projects by Chinese companies such as the Tel Aviv light rail and critical infrastructure projects in the water and energy sectors. Israel's foreign-investments advisory committee had its powers expanded in 2022, requiring further scrutiny of and sensitivity to Israel's national-security needs when deciding whether to accept foreign investment. The signal that Jerusalem is sending could hardly be clearer.

2023-05-18 00:00:00

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