PRC Reportedly Threatens to Downgrade Israel Ties Over Paper's Interview With Taiwan's Top Diplomat
The spat began Monday following The Jerusalem Post's publication of an invective-filled interview with Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, in which the diplomat warned Tel Aviv that it couldn't "trust" Beijing, and claimed that the People's Republic was preparing to invade Taiwan.
The Jerusalem Post has reported receiving a demand from the Chinese Embassy in Israel to take down its controversial interview with Joseph Wu, with Beijing threatening to blacklist the paper and downgrade ties with Tel Aviv generally.
"Got call from Chinese Embassy. Apparently I'm supposed to take down the story or they will sever ties with the @Jerusalem Post and downgrade relations with the State of Israel. Needless to say, story ain't going anywhere", JP editor-in-chief Yaakov Katz wrote shortly after the publication of the interview.
The Taiwanese Foreign Ministry's Twitter account chimed in on Tuesday, saying Taipei "can't imagine what kind of rogue diplomats dares threaten the great state of #Israel, its media independence and freedom. Or perhaps the expansion of authoritarianism has no upper bound and forbidden zone after all?" The post was signed "JW", Joseph Wu's initials.
On Wednesday, Katz tweeted again, posting a letter from a Chinese Embassy spokesperson to the editor-in-chief expressing Beijing's "firm opposition and strong condemnation" of the outlet over the Wu interview, calling the latter a "'Taiwan independence' separatist", and accusing the Post of helping "to spread separatist noises in total disregard of the Embassy's objection".
"The Taiwan question, concerning China's core interests and our people's national sentiments, is purely China's internal affair that allows no external interference", the embassy stressed.
The embassy asked the newspaper to "refrain from being manipulated by 'Taiwan Independence' forces and foreign anti-China forces," and to "take real actions to eliminate the egregious impacts of the interview and contribute to China-Israel relations".
Katz responded, "thanking" China for the note, but suggested that "respect -as you ask for - does not include ignoring hard truths and telling stories about Taiwan to the world. That's exactly what the @Jerusalem Post will keep doing".
In his interview with the JP, Wu accused China of using trade as a weapon, warned Israel to "be very careful" when doing business with an "authoritarian country" like the PRC, charged Beijing with being driven by an "expansionist mode of authoritarianism", and called Israel an "inspirational" country that Taiwan would like to emulate.
The diplomat added that Tel Aviv and Taipei have already signed a large number of agreements in areas including visa-free travel and environmental protection, and that the two share "the same belief in freedom, democracy and the protection of human rights".
This week's demarche follows on the heels of a report by Israel's Kan broadcaster last week that the Israeli Foreign Ministry had sent out a note specifically advising diplomats not to invite Taiwanese colleagues to any events or take part in events organised by Taipei's representatives out of concerns over relations with Beijing.
Israel formally adheres to the One-China policy, recognising the People's Republic as the sole legitimate claimant to the name "China". The two countries formally established relations in 1992, with economic, technological and even military ties ballooning dramatically over the past three decades. China became Israel's largest source of imports in 2021, surpassing the United States, with imports totalling $10.7 billion. The Jewish State exported $4.1 billion worth of goods to the Asian nation during the same period, according to the Israeli National Bureau of Statistics.
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