Israel-China relations getting warmer

Friday, July 08, 2011 |  Ryan Jones

Relations between tiny Israel and Asian behemoth China are warming up of late, according to reports in the Israeli media this week.

Israel and China have a long history of cooperation in hi-tech fields, and business relations have been strong for some time. But now the two countries are ramping up defense and security ties, as well.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak visited China last month to bolster growing security cooperation.

Israel and China were becoming close defense partners in the late 1990s, too, with Israel selling over half a billion dollars worth of hi-tech weaponry to China every year. But that cooperation was squashed by American pressure on Israel to stop arming its communist rival. Beijin was none too pleased that Israel had caved so easily to Washington's dictates.

It is not yet clear what form this new Israel-China security cooperation will take, but what is known is that Jerusalem sees China as an important ally in solidifying its place in a sea of hostile Muslim nations.

China has enormous influence with Arab and Muslim powers across the region, and Israel hopes to leverage that in order to defuse some of the more pertinent threats facing the Jewish state.

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