July 06, 2021

Israel’s growing ties to China are testing its relationship with the U.S.

By David Feith

How will Israel’s transition to a post-Benjamin Netanyahu government change Israel’s vital relationship with the United States? Much of the focus has been on policies toward Iran and the Palestinians, but there is another issue with enormous potential to solidify or harm the U.S.-Israeli relationship: Israel’s economic and technological ties with China.

The Biden administration, like the Trump administration, has recognized China as the United States’ chief national security threat and geostrategic rival. Despite political polarization in other areas, Democrats and Republicans support hardening U.S. policy toward China on matters including military posture, trade and investment, technology controls, cross-border data restrictions and academic exchange.

As a sovereign, high-tech, democratic powerhouse, Israel has a fundamental stake in the contest between China and the free world.

U.S. leaders are urging foreign friends to make similar adjustments to protect themselves — and their U.S. ties — from Beijing’s theft, espionage, coercion and other malign activity. President Biden, on his recent trip to Europe, underscored the China challenge, declaring, “We have to discredit those who believe that the age of democracy is over.”

Yet U.S. worries about China have been prominently belittled in Israel: Yossi Cohen, who stepped down last month as Israel’s powerful spy chief, said in a June 7 speech, “I do not understand what the Americans want from China. If anyone understands it, he should explain it to me. . . . China is not opposed to us and is not our enemy.”

Cohen’s air of unconcern reflects more than a decade of increasing ties between Israel and China.

Read the full article from The Washington Post.

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