Resolution of Sorek 2 controversy ushers in new stage of Israel-China ties
By: Lahav Harkov

The ongoing pressure by the US for Israel to be warier of Chinese investments and involvement in sensitive areas such as technology and infrastructure may seem like a net negative for relations between Beijing and Jerusalem.

There are genuine security threats involved in allowing a foreign country to control so much of Israel’s infrastructure, and certainly the COVID-19 crisis highlighted the need for more self-sufficiency in an emergency. Specific issues have come up with Chinese companies around the world, such as weaknesses in communications projects that help Beijing gather intelligence, but Israel didn’t do much about the problem until the US pushed it.

Israel must always heed US concerns, but its China ties can still thrive
By: Raphael Ahren, Times Of Israel

Israel-China relations are currently experiencing massive turbulence, with top US administration officials warning Jerusalem against investments by companies controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, and the sudden death of Beijing’s ambassador in Herzliya.

But ties between Beijing and Jerusalem will remain strong, because China ultimately understands that Israel’s first allegiance will always be to the United States and will be able to work with that, according to Carice Witte, a leading expert on Israel-China relations.

Pompeo Visits Israel: China is likely to be on the agenda
By: Carice Witte Founder and executive director of SIGNAL & Nadav LawrenceResearch Associate at SIGNAL.

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to land in Israel on Wednesday. His visit coincides with the swearing-in of a new Israeli government, breaking the country’s year-long political deadlock. The COVID-19 pandemic and moves towards annexing parts of the West Bank are likely to dominate Mr. Pompeo’s discussions with both Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz. Yet also likely to be on the agenda is the thorny issue of US-China tensions and Israel’s position in relation to them.

The US is Israel’s closest strategic ally. The two countries share democratic values and a belief in free and fair trade within a rules-based international order. In the Middle East – Israel’s backyard – Jerusalem and Washington see eye to eye on many strategic and security issues. When it comes to dealing with China, however, the picture is less clear.

Comprehending China’s media: the case of Itzik HaSini
By: Carice Witte, Executive Director of SIGNAL & Nadav Lawrence, Research Associate at SIGNAL

The American-based Epoch Times recently ran a Hebrew-language piece, supposedly exposing the affectionately named “Itzik HaSini” (“Itzik the Chinese”) as an employee of China’s state media. While presenting Itzik HaSini, whose name is Xi Shiu Chi, as a secretive tool through which Beijing seeks to ‘control world opinion,’ what the piece failed to take into account was that mainstream Israeli media has been largely upfront about Itzik HaSini’s true identity and for whom he works. Itzik HaSini is a young Chinese man, working for China Radio International, who, through his YouTube videos and almost impeccable Hebrew, has won the hearts of many Israelis by showing them what life is apparently like in China. From showcasing Chinese technology to drafting into the Israeli army, for his Israeli fans Xi and his videos serve as a captivating and entertaining window into a people and culture about which they know very little. Though written in Hebrew, the Epoch article tells us more about American attitudes than it does Israeli, underscoring the differences between how China is perceived in the US and Israel. Nevertheless, with Israel and China operating in very different cultural and political contexts, the article does highlight how critical it is for Israeli audiences to better comprehend the framework in which Chinese media operates.

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.

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