Article Library / Policy Papers

China’s Rise, US Opposition and the Implications for Israel

Internal:

  • Start to effectively coordinate all China policies. Set up a coordination mechanism in the Prime Minister’s Office involving the relevant ministries, trade representatives, and universities. This means setting priorities. What does Israel want and need from China?
  • Strengthen the recently created panel to examine foreign investment proposals. Authorize this panel to make decisions in this regard.
  • Train and employ more professionals who understand China, Chinese history, and politics, as well as US concerns about China. Israel has a few excellent experts. Many more are needed in the Prime Minister’s Office, in government, in NGOs, in the business-sector, in academia, and particularly the media.
  • Increase dialogues with other countries under similar US pressure for their respective relations with China. Henry Kissinger (Nov. 2019) warned that America’s global campaign to constrain China could end in America’s isolation. This would weaken Israel too. Start a regular dialogue and information exchange particularly with European countries that are also under US pressure.
  • Put together an estimate of the probable economic losses Israel is incurring because it has to restrict trade with, and investments from, China.
  • In the past, contacts by American Jewish leaders with China have been helpful to Israel. Use the existing channels of communication with US Jews – if this is not done already – to inform and discuss with US Jews its China-related dilemmas.

External-US:

  • A regular US-Israel dialogue regarding China is necessary. Reassure the US that Israel understands their concerns very well and knows how to protect its own security.
  • Suggest to the US to create a centralized Federal “clearing house” in order to agree on US policies in regard to Israel-China relations. This would be a counterpart to the proposed China policy coordinating mechanism in Israel. It is not always clear to Israel what the US wants. It is likely that the Americans are not always clear themselves. Israel needs more clarity.
  • Welcome US assistance to strengthen the weak academic basis of Israel’s China studies programs. A Rand Corporation report on the China-Israel relationship emphasizes this shortcoming and proposes US help to overcome it.38
  • Explain that Israel’s interest in China has always been more than commercial. It is part of its long-term survival strategies and its wish to build support in important countries bordering the Muslim world. This does not conflict with US policy goals in the Middle East, on the contrary.
  • Review with the US repeated Chinese entreaties that Israel or the Jewish people could play a moderating role in the current tensions, or help the West to understand China. Some Chinese believe that the past sufferings of Chinese and Jews create affinities, and others have an unrealistic belief in alleged Israeli or Jewish power. But “the perception of power is power” (attributed to Francis Bacon).

External-China:

  • Chinese policy makers are currently interested in discussing the Middle East with Israeli professionals. Israel’s expertise is held in high regard, while the Chinese know that they have a lot to learn. Explore how to initiate and frame such dialogues and support the already involved Israeli NGOs.
  • Ask China for more “reciprocity” in economic and political relations with Israel. Reciprocity is a key concept of Confucian philosophy, the moral basis of human relations. China wants something – it should give something.
  • Explore whether Israel and Saudi-Arabia could jointly influence China’s Iran policies if they work together.
  • Caution China that its Iran policy has the potential of escalating tensions between Israel and Iran, including the danger of a direct confrontation that would damage Chinese interests.
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