The impact of the coronavirus in China: Implications for Israel
By: Nadav Lawrence, Research Associate at SIGNAL

The coronavirus has so far infected more than 200,000 people and claimed almost 10,000 lives. Aside from the major challenge posed to public health systems across the world, it is already clear that China’s massive presence on the international stage and the interdependency of the global economy means the virus is likely to cause far-reaching economic and geopolitical consequences as it continues to spread, including here in Israel.

In an effort that has proven effective in containing the spread of the virus in China, factories and businesses have been shut down, and some 60 million people were confined to their homes in Hubei province alone. The city of Wuhan, where the virus originated, and Hubei province, in general, were effectively sealed off, in what has been described as the largest quarantine in human history. This dealt a major blow to productivity. In an attempt to stem the spread of the virus, many countries placed restrictions on movement to and from China, severely hampering the flow of trade. Economists predict that China’s economic growth could slow to as low as 4% in the first quarter of 2020, the slowest pace in over a decade.

Response to – Can China Replace the United States in Israel?
By: Carice Witte Founder and Executive Director of SIGNAL

As the US – China competition has deepened during the past year, Israel has responded proactively to American concerns about Chinese acquisition of Israeli technology. This includes a strengthened review process for investments in Israel. Furthermore, Jerusalem acted swiftly with a security review when Washington expressed worries over China’s investment in the new section of the Haifa Port.

As America’s closest ally, Israel has no military-related exports and technology transfers to China. Economic relations between the two countries are concentrated overwhelmingly in agriculture, environment, infrastructure and other purely civilian spheres. Meanwhile, the Israel-American relationship never has been stronger. Israel’s growing relations with China take that into consideration.

Why America might support a Sino-Israel Free Trade Agreement
By: Dale Aluf, Director of Research and Strategy at SIGNAL.

Against the backdrop of heightened Sino-US tensions, Israel is due to enter its 8th round of negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China. The two nations wrapped up their 7th round in November 2019, and could very well finalize the deal by the close of 2020. The notion of one of America’s closest allies entering into such an agreement with its recently dubbed “strategic competitor” might cause one to raise an eyebrow. But if negotiated wisely, an FTA could, in fact, serve to benefit all three countries.

Since the release of its 2017 National Security Strategy, America has tightened restrictions on Chinese investment in sensitive technologies such as quantum computing and artificial intelligence, and has been encouraging its allies to follow suit.

Understanding China’s response to the Soleimani killing
By: Dale Aluf, Director of Research and Strategy at SIGNAL.

The assassination of Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani was a monumental event in the ongoing US-Iran rivalry, the consequences of which will resonate throughout the Middle East and beyond for some time to come. Israeli leadership has lauded the Trump administration’s actions, with PM Netanyahu recently telling the media that “Trump is worthy of full appreciation for acting with determination, strongly and swiftly.” But Israel’s second-largest trading partner, China, views this event in starkly different terms. In light of China’s expanding presence both in Israel and its backyard, Beijing’s response is important to examine.

At a press conference held shortly after the event, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang went beyond the usual calls for restraint singling out America and calling for all parties “to keep calm and exercise restraint and avoid a further escalation of tensions.” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reinforced China’s position in a call to his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, complaining that the “dangerous US military operation violates the basic norms of international relations and will aggravate regional tensions and turbulence.”

Chinese Human Rights Delegation Visits Israel
By: Dale Aluf, Director of Research and Strategy at SIGNAL.

Amidst allegations of abuses occurring in re-education camps in Xinjiang, and as protests continue to rage in Hong Kong, an official delegation from the China Foundation for Human Rights Development traveled to Israel last week for talks with Knesset members, think tanks, and academic institutions.

The visit, led by the former Vice-Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Mr. Huang Mengfu, aimed to foster deeper mutual understanding between the two countries on various human rights issues.

The Chinese Way: Cultivating Relationships and Building Trust
By: Dr.Aryeh Tepper, SIGNAL Senior Research Fellow and ISP Academic Advisor

What makes China so different from the West? Why are relations between Westerners and Chinese so often characterized by disparate expectations and missed communications? And how can Israel avoid falling into the trap of thinking in narrow Western terms when dealing with Beijing?

One major difference between China and the West is that relationship networks play a far more intense and decisive role in the lives of Chinese than in the lives of Westerners. This is the case because the sense of an authentic inner self that stands on its own, independent of relationships and societal influences, is far stronger in Western culture than in Chinese culture. This might sound like a strange notion at first hearing, but it cuts to the heart of the distinctive ways in which Chinese and Westerners navigate their way through the world, including the willingness to trust those who come from outside of one’s established network of relationships.

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SIGNAL Perspectives are written by experts on a range of issues within the China-Israel-Middle East space