A senior Chinese diplomat has threatened to “downgrade relations” with Israel following an interview published in The Jerusalem Post with Taiwan’s foreign minister, the Post’s editor in chief, Yaakov Katz, tweeted on Tuesday.
“Got call from Chinese embassy. Apparently, I’m supposed to take down the story or they will sever ties with The Jerusalem Post and downgrade relations with the State of Israel. Needless to say, story ain’t going anywhere,” Katz wrote.
Didn’t take long. Got call from Chinese embassy. Apparently I’m supposed to take down the story or they will sever ties with the @Jerusalem_Post and downgrade relations with the State of Israel. Needless to say, story ain’t going anywhere. https://t.co/BypRMTbc6W
— Yaakov Katz (@yaakovkatz) May 30, 2022
In the interview, published on Monday, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said that Israel had become over-reliant on China and that Beijing was preparing for an invasion of the breakaway island.
“China is an authoritarian country, and they do business in a very different philosophy,” said Wu.
He added that “sometimes, they use trade as a weapon, and we have seen them practicing their weaponized trade relations with many other countries.”
Wu further suggested that Israel not make concessions to Beijing nor “worry about China getting upset with you. When they get upset with you, that means you’re doing something right.”
Threat to US-Israel relations
Israel has received similar warnings from Washington, which cautioned that business dealings with China typically have strings attached, and that cozying up too much to Beijing could damage US-Israel relations.
“China is not a reliable partner,” members of then-US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s entourage told their Israeli hosts in January 2020.
This fact isn’t lost on Israel, with experts acknowledging that China plays by an entirely different set of rules of which the Jewish state must be wary.
At the same time, China has rapidly grown to rival the US as a global economic superpower, and Israel cannot afford to ignore overtures from Beijing, leaving it to walk something of a diplomatic tightrope.
Chinese officials are also very aware of this dynamic, and are on record as stating that while Israel might have America as its primary ally today, in 50 years things will be different, and the Jewish state will be looking wholly to Beijing.
Here’s an interesting bit of related trivia. Did you know that the “father” of modern China was a Zionist?
Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the pre-Communist era Chinese leader who’s still revered as the founder of the modern state, wrote a letter a century ago in which he called Zionism “one of the greatest movements of the present time.”
He went on to insist that “all lovers of democracy cannot help but support whole-heartedly and welcome with enthusiasm the movement to restore your wonderful and historic nation, which has contributed so much to the civilization of the world and which rightfully deserve an honorable place in the family of nations.”
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With reporting by JNS.