Israel freezes defense exports to China, at request of U.S.
By Yossi Melman Ha'aretz 2 January 2003
Israel has suspended all contacts on the export of arms and security
equipment to China, in response to a U.S. request.
The American request, which reached Israel three weeks ago, surprised senior
Defense Ministry officials. But despite its qualms, Israel eventually
decided to comply with the request. "This is simply a new American dictate,
and we didn't have any choice in the matter," explained one Defense Ministry
Defense Ministry officials fear that the new American demand could harm
Israel's relations with China. However, they added, the freezing of ties
will probably not cause significant economic damage to Israel.
Defense Ministry Director-General Amos Yaron has been put in charge of the
issue, and he intends to "track down" the web of security ties with China.
The Americans did not set a time limit on their request, which they
justified by their concerns about the possible flow of American technology
to China via Israel. Due to the close cooperation between Washington and
Jerusalem, much sophisticated American technology reaches Israel.
The Americans indicated that they are considering formulating a new
strategic policy toward Beijing. But unless and until such a policy is
devised, American officials informed Israel, the Bush administration has
decided to make every effort to prevent the supply of arms and advanced
military technology to China. The American position stems from a concern
that China may in the future use advanced military technology against Taiwan
in order to weaken and eventually annex it.
But one senior Israeli official contended that America's explanations of its
request are merely a pretext. The real American aim, he charged, is to
remove Israeli firms from the Chinese market in preparation for a possible
policy shift toward Beijing that would enable American companies to start
exporting arms to China.
A Defense Ministry spokesman said that "security ties between Israel and
China exist, and will continue in an orderly way. Periodically, concrete
issues arise that require more discussion between ourselves and China and
between ourselves and the U.S., and these talks influence specific