China Asks for Clarification on Investments Issue

Haifa Port. (Zvi Roger)

China has asked for clarification from Israel regarding statements made by senior officials in the defense and foreign establishment warning about Chinese penetration of sensitive Israeli infrastructure, according to a senior official quoted by Channel 13 on Tuesday.

Head of the Shin Bet Nadav Argaman was singled out for his comments. “There is a gap between the laws in Israel and security needs in terms of overseeing foreign investments,” Argaman said recently.

A proposal has been advanced to establish an interministerial committee to oversee Chinese investments.

In particular, Argaman was addressing the Shanghai International Port Group that won a government contract to build and operate Haifa’s port for 25 years. American navy vessels dock at the seaport, Israel’s busiest, on a regular basis, and Pentagon officials have reportedly complained to Yerushalayim that the Chinese presence could present a security risk that would force the U.S. to dock its ships elsewhere. Israeli officials were reportedly reviewing the matter on an urgent basis.

A senior source was quoted as saying that the request for clarification was conveyed by the Chinese ambassador to Israel to Israeli foreign ministry officials, and by the Beijing foreign ministry to the Israeli ambassador to China.

Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette expressed “concerns regarding certain Chinese foreign investment in Israel,” during a visit to Israel earlier this month, Calcalist reported. Brouillette warned Israeli officials that the U.S. may limit intelligence sharing with Israel if no steps are taken to regulate foreign investments.