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Chinese-operated port opens in Israel despite American concerns

The Biden administration is relaying to Jerusalem the same fears expressed by former US administrations over Chinese investments in Israel.

Israel's first private port opened Sept. 1. Operated by the government-run Chinese company SIPG, this project and the growing Chinese involvement in the Israeli economy are a point of dispute with the American administration. The US administration reportedly opposes this move. One of the warnings raised was that the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet, which sometimes docks at the port of Haifa, would be vulnerable to Chinese bugging and surveillance. A study by the American Rand Corporation on Israel-China relations says that a permanent Chinese presence at the Haifa port would provide a unique opportunity to collect intelligence and conduct cyberwarfare. The report quotes former US Chief of Naval Operations Gary Roughead as saying in 2018, "The Chinese port operator will be able to monitor closely US ship movements" and "Significantly, the information systems and new infrastructure integral to the ports and the likelihood of information and electronic surveillance systems jeopardize US information and cybersecurity."

In 2018 Haaretz reported that according to a senior White House official, the Pentagon, the Treasury Department and Vice President Mike Pence’s office were boiling mad when they heard about the cooperation between Israel and China in building ports in the country. In 2019 John Bolton, then the American national security adviser, visited Israel and raised Washington’s concerns at China’s growing involvement in building important infrastructure in Israel, including the port.

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