From David Ben-Gurion to Ben-Gurion University: the Israel–China Connection, from Idea to Action
By: Paula Kabalo

David Ben-Gurion, founding father of the State of Israel, often expressed his appreciation for the Chinese people and predicted that China would again play a senior role—one of leadership and influence—in world affairs as it had once before. While one may be inclined to diminish the importance of these statements, one might also accordingly argue that Ben-Gurion took this position as a sober-minded statesman who recognized the importance of building bridges and maintaining relations with the great continent that Israel calls home—Asia.

A more thorough examination of Ben-Gurion’s articles, speeches and letters, however, reveals a much deeper dimension regarding his respect for China: one that transcends the practical interest that flows from geographic proximity and potential economic cooperation. Even while serving as prime minister and minister of defense, Ben-Gurion found time to read Chinese philosophy and study the history of the Chinese people, “one of the first peoples of culture in antiquity,” he said.

What Israel Can Learn from the Sino-Swiss Free Trade Agreement
By: Jonathan Schwarz

China and Israel wrapped up their fifth round of free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations this past January. The negotiations began in 2016. Prime Minister Netanyahu has pushed for reaching a final agreement in 2019. The goal of this final accord is a win-win outcome, but how would that look?

The Middle Kingdom is a mammoth of economic might. Israel, for its part, punches above its weight class to be sure, but China is a heavyweight. The Chinese are quite aware that firms around the world relish the opportunity of trading with them. This has been true for centuries and China is keen on leveraging this fact. Consequently, the majority of China’s FTAs with developed countries have been slightly lopsided to their own benefit. In most cases, Chinese exports receive a higher tariff elimination rate than the counterpart’s exports and these eliminations often apply immediately whereas the counterpart often has to wait a period of years for all of the tariff eliminations to go into effect. The rationale given is that various Chinese industries are still developing and need time to adjust to competition from advanced countries.

הדיון הישראלי-סיני
איננו יכולים להתעלם מהדיון הציבורי המתפתח סביב ההשקעה הגבוהה במיוחד של חברות סיניות בשוק הישראלי. הנושא שבעבר היה נידון בשיחות סלון מאחורי דלתיים סגורות, מעסיק כיום את המהדורות המרכזיות ואת הפורומים לביטחון לאומי. בכירים ביטחוניים לשעבר יחד עם פרשנים כלכליים מעלים חששות בנוגע לסיכונים האפשריים לביטחונה הלאומי של ישראל ולחוסנה הכלכלי.

ישראל אינה לבדה. מדינות עולם שלישי לצד כלכלות מתקדמות מהוות גם הן מוקד להשקעות חוץ סיניות כחלק מחזונה הכלכלי-עולמי של סין, כאשר כיום מדינות אלה מחפשות את האיזון הנכון בין הגנה על האינטרסים הלאומיים שלהן לבין שמירה על מדיניות השוק הפתוח.
מספר כלכלות מערביות, דוגמת אוסטרליה וגרמניה, שינו את האופן בו הם סוקרות את תהליכי ההשקעות הזרות שלהן על-מנת להתאים את ההליכים עבור קונים חדשים ותעשיות. עם זאת, מוקד העניין העולמי האמיתי עוסק בארה”ב ובמלחמת הסחר וההשקעות בינה לבין לסין, מה שרלוונטי למסחר הישראלי ולמציאות הפוליטית בישראל.

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.

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