How Israel, a Close Ally of the US, Became a Close Ally of China

December 27, 2021 Updated: December 28, 2021

Commentary

The United States and Israel appear to be close allies. However, things aren’t always as they seem. As Israel cozies up to China, that once “unbreakable bond” between the United States and Israel looks increasingly fragile.

In 1948, the United States became the first country to officially recognize the new State of Israel; seven decades on, the Trump administration made history by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. According to the U.S. Department of State, “Israel has no greater friend than the United States.” The two countries’ unbreakable bond “has never been stronger,” or so we’re told.

Can Beijing sever the bond once and for all?

In a speech, delivered in 2017, Benjamin Netanyahu, then the most important man in Israel, waxed lyrical about a “marriage made in heaven.” The politician was not speaking about his wife, nor was he speaking about the United States. He was speaking about Israel’s marriage to China. A marriage of convenience rather than love, no doubt. A marriage nonetheless.

Xi Jinping also has as a soft spot for Israel and Isaac Herzog, the country’s president. Xi recently invited Herzog to visit Beijing next year, to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of normal diplomatic ties between the two countries. The marriage, it appears, is growing stronger by the day.

According to research published by the RAND corporation, an American think tank, since 2000, China and Israel have started to form stronger relations. From diplomacy to trade, infrastructure to research, China continues to invest heavily in Israel. Chinese tourists now flock to Israel in record numbers, according to the BBC.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), however, is not really interested in seeing the sights; it’s far more interested in seeing the science. More specifically, it’s interested in seeing Israel’s advanced technology, as the RAND paper revealed.

Chinese Vice Chair Wang Qishan in Jerusalem.
Chinese Vice Chair Wang Qishan during his tour with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the Israeli Innovation Summit in Jerusalem on Oct. 24, 2018. (Ariel Schalit/AFP/Getty Images)

Why is Israel interested in China? Again, according to RAND, this interest stems from the Israeli government’s desire to “expand its diplomatic and economic ties with the world’s fastest growing major economy.” Israel’s leaders wish to diversify the country’s “export markets and investments,” even though China firmly supports Iran, a country that would love nothing more than to see Israel wiped off the face of the planet.

Earlier this year, Beijing signed a 25-year strategic agreement with Tehran. How can a friend of Iran also be a friend of Israel? Then again, how can a friend of the United States (Israel) be a friend of China?

The second question can be answered with one word: money. Today, the bilateral trade relationship between Beijing and Jerusalem is worth $10 billion. Twenty-eight years ago, it was worth just $50 million.

All Eyes on Technology

The quickly developing field of quantum computing, according to tech experts, will have “far-reaching” and potentially “disruptive” influences. In the United States, there are genuine fears that the CCP will use quantum technology to steal sensitive data from its citizens as well as various branches of government.

It will come as little surprise, then, to find out that Israel, China’s new best friend, is one of the leaders in quantum tech.

According to a recent Bloomberg Innovation Index, Israel, a country with the same population as New York City, is now the seventh most innovative nation in the world. The United States, it’s important to note, is no longer in the top 10. In Silicon Wadi, Israel’s version of Silicon Valley, more than 5,000 different companies can be found, many of them dedicated to all things tech. Of the 18 countries in the Middle East, Israel boasts the largest number of start-ups per capita. A number of these start-ups carry out research in the areas of artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and quantum computing—a fact that is not lost on the CCP.

Since 2019, according to a recent Physics Today report, the number of Israeli firms working in quantum tech has “surged from 5 to 30,” with the “Israeli army, air force, and intelligence community” forming the “backbone” of the burgeoning industry.

As the Rand report warned, the CCP’s investment in Israeli technology “could lead to leaks of sensitive technology and cyberespionage.”

Don’t be surprised if the CCP uses Israel’s quantum knowledge to attack its American foes. After all, Israeli spyware has already been used to target U.S. officials, and Beijing appears to have Jerusalem in its proverbial back pocket.

As Neville Teller, an expert on Middle Eastern politics, recently wrote, the question for the Israeli government “is how far it should go in embracing China as a business partner, given American suspicions about China’s true motives. Are all such Chinese investments pieces in a vast jigsaw designed to secure China’s unassailable political and economic global supremacy?”

The answer to that question, Mr. Teller, is a resounding yes.

Israel, a country that acts as a bridge between three different continents—Asia, Africa, and Europe—appears to be a key component in Beijing’s plans for world domination. One imagines that the CCP won’t stop until it destroys that “unbreakable bond” between Israel and the United States. Will it succeed? Only time will tell.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

John Mac Ghlionn is a researcher and essayist. His work has been published, among others, by the New York Post, The Sydney Morning Herald, Newsweek, National Review, and The Spectator US. He covers psychology and social relations, and has a keen interest in social dysfunction and media manipulation.