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Iran Press TV

US asks Israel to sever burgeoning ties with China: Paper

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 24 May 2020 10:26 AM

The United States has asked Israel to sever ties with China in areas which entail security risks, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Citing an unnamed US official, the Israeli daily revealed that the Trump administration has asked Israel to take concrete steps to reduce its ties with China.

So far, "the Israeli side has politely acknowledged our concerns without committing to action," the unnamed official said.

"I don't think polite deflection will cut it anymore," the official said, adding "this is a high priority for the US."

One industry that the US has pinpointed as particularly sensitive is technology, so much so that the US has been eyeing Chinese-Israeli joint academic research in the field, the report said.

The US is especially concerned with the billions of dollars Chinese companies have invested in technologies that Israel has classified as commercial, but could be used by Chinese intelligence, like artificial intelligence, satellite communications and cybersecurity.

The demand came just days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited the occupied territories and asked Israel to reconsider its joint projects with China in areas with security risks and sensitivities for the US, including academic projects and technological research and development.

In previous public statements, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and other State Department officials had focused on the establishment of a more robust review process for foreign investments that could pose risks, and a reduction of reliance on China for emergency equipment in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

The US and Israel share some of the most sensitive intelligence with one another. In addition, American contractors sell Israel some of the most classified military hardware and weapons in the US like the F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighter jet, according to the Israeli daily.

The US is concerned that with China building most of Israel's infrastructure – roads, trains, tunnels, ports and more – it will eventually gain access to the lines of communication through which Israel and the US communicate intelligence with one another. That is something that Washington will not tolerate, said the report.

For too long, Israel has cozied up to China while ignoring potential ramifications or fallout with its greatest ally, the United States, the newspaper said.

However, Tel Aviv could be on a collision course with Washington unless tight restrictions are imposed on Chinese investment in Israel, because the US president sees this both as a geopolitical security threat and a distraction from accomplishing the objectives of his trade war with China.

According to Israel's Army Radio on Tuesday, Tel Aviv has asked Washington for compensation in exchange for reducing ties with China - an offer that the US reportedly rejected.

The ongoing friction between the US and China has escalated in recent months in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, and the US has put pressure on many of its allies as a result.

The US has accused China of hiding news of the original outbreak of the novel coronavirus from the world.

President Trump has long called COVID-19 a "Chinese virus," going so far as to accuse Chinese President Xi Jinping of standing behind a "disinformation and propaganda attack on the United States and Europe."

The current venomous rhetoric by Trump and his allies about China's "culpability" for the COVID-19 pandemic has led to strong reactions from Chinese officials.

China's Ambassador to Israel Du Wei, who was found dead in his official residence in Herzliya last Sunday, had made a high-profile defense of his country's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In an interview with Israel's Makor Rishon newspaper in April, Du addressed the matter of Chinese investments in Israel, expressing hope for further cooperation.

He also expressed hope to strengthen the ties between Israel and China, addressing the accusations leveled at his country as being the one responsible for the outbreak of the virus.

Mystery and speculation surrounds the death and comments from readers under an online article in the Jerusalem Post included: "Something smells fishy here."

Another said there was "a long list of suspects," and the envoy's death was like something in a spy movie, or the US murder investigation show CSI (Crime Scene Investigation).

Others suggested a link to Pompeo's recent whirlwind visit to Israel, during which he was overtly critical of China, and demanded that Israel stop sharing confidential military information with Beijing.

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