The Haifa port-China conundrum in context
By: Dale Aluf

Amidst rising tensions between China and the U.S., controversy surrounding the Shanghai International Ports Group (SIPG) being awarded the tender to operate the new terminal of the Haifa port has taken center stage in Jerusalem.

Rising concerns are reflected in a sample of headlines published in Israeli media outlets in recent months, including:
“Israel Is Giving China the Keys to Its Largest Port – and the U.S. Navy May Abandon Israel”
“Has Israel made a huge mistake letting a Chinese firm run part of Haifa port?”
“U.S Navy May Stop Docking in Haifa after Chinese Take over port”
“‘Trump Will Be Furious’: Tension Between U.S. and Israel Over China Infrastructure Projects.”

In September, Haaretz reported that members of the American think tank community harshly criticized their Israeli counterparts over the deal, which will see SIPG take over operations of the new terminal for 25 years, beginning in 2021. They raised concerns over the possibility of the Chinese using the facility to spy on the U.S. 6th fleet which occasionally docks in Haifa; “Once China is in the picture…the Israel Navy will not be able to count on maintaining the close relations it has had with the Sixth Fleet.”

Political Meritocracy and the Rise of China
By: Dr. Aryeh Tepper

According to the World Bank, China’s economic rise has been, “the fastest sustained expansion by a major economy in history.” In order to appreciate the scale of China’s stunning development, picture the Middle Kingdom in the early 1970’s: an entire nation dressed in standard dark-blue and grey tunics purchased food with state-rationed stamps, televisions were community-shared commodities, everyone rode bicycles, and over 80% of the population lived in abject poverty in the countryside. Since market reforms were instituted in 1978, however, the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) has averaged almost 10% annual growth, and approximately 800,000,000 (!) people have been lifted out of poverty. Fast forward to China today, and a visitor will find a country plugged into digital technologies, with high-speed railways connecting cities overcrowded with modern cars and teeming with people recently moved from the countryside.

What lies behind this remarkable transformation? One of the most fundamental causes of China’s economic development was Deng Xiaoping’s influential behind-the-scenes decision-making after Mao’s death. Deftly maneuvering China’s levers of power, Deng emancipated the country from ideologically determined policies and pragmatically directed the opening and reform of China’s economy. But Deng is only one man, and China is a country of 1.3 billion people. His leadership is only part of the story.

Is China a Communist, Capitalist, or Confucian Country?
By: Dr. Aryeh Tepper

For outsiders, China has always been a mysterious and mystifying country, and present-day China is no exception. Much of today’s confusion, however, revolves around a specific question: is China a communist country? Has it instead become a capitalist country? Or is it something else? The confusion is augmented by the fact that one can argue coherently for diametrically opposed answers.

Israel Is More Important To China Than You Might Think
By: Dale Aluf

The recent appointment of Wang Qishan as China’s head of the China-Israel Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation sends a clear indication: Israel is very important to China.

Chinese Foreign Policy Under Xi

Book review by Carice Witte

In this paper, SIGNAL Founder/Executive Director Carice Witte reviews “Chinese Foreign Policy Under Xi,” an amalgam of thirteen essays about current Chinese foreign policy. As China continues to rapidly grow and reexamine its international priorities, its global strategy is constantly evolving. For this reason alone, its is difficult to come by time appropriate, extensive analyses of China’s foreign policy. This represents a catch-22, as analysts must constantly update their knowledge to provide an accurate assessment of China. With this in mind, Ms. Witte discusses each section in the context of China’s present affairs. Published in 2017, some of the arguments presented in“Chinese Foreign Policy Under Xi,”are already outdated; nonetheless, it provides useful commentary on a consequential topic.

Dealing with an Ambiguous World Order, from China to the United States
By: Aryeh Tepper, Academic Advisor to SIGNAL’s Israel Studies Programs in China


Israel’s relationship with China is usually viewed from a bilateral perspective that focuses on economic issues. Sometimes, America’s view of the relationship is added to the picture.

The relationship between Israel and China exists, however, in a global context, and the character of that context needs to be clearly understood if Israel wants to preserve the widest possible range of options and avoid undesirable choices in its relations with both Washington and Beijing.

The problem with understanding this greater context is that while everyone knows that we’re living in a post-Cold War era, not much else is clear about the present international order. Francis Fukayama argued in his influential 1992 book, The End of History, that a consensus regarding the legitimacy of liberal democracy was emerging around the globe thanks to liberal democracy’s capacity to satisfy fundamental human desires for both comfort and recognition. Fukayama, in other words, thought that the post-Cold War order would be liberal-democratic.

Fukayama’s teacher, the late Samuel Huntington, argued against his student in his 1996 book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, that the post-Cold War era would see conflict break out along civilizational lines.

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