When the US compares China to fascism

On December 3, US National Intelligence Chief John Ratcliffe published an article entitled “China is the number one threat to US national security,” in which he described it as the most serious threat to democracy and the free world since World War II. The opposition to the challenge on the part of China was equated with defeating fascism and overthrowing the Iron Curtain at the time. He said it was clear from the intelligence that China was striving for economic, military and technological dominance in the world, with its public initiatives and business companies serving as a cover for China’s Communist Party activities.

According to Ratcliffe, as part of its economic espionage, China is robbing intellectual capital of American companies, replicating their technology, pushing them out of world markets, and thereby causing severe damage to the value of companies and employment. Chinese citizens are frequently arrested by the FBI for stealing research and development secrets, and a Chinese program rewards senior foreign scientists for stealing information for it. The administration estimates that China’s theft of intellectual capital costs the US $ 500 billion a year. China steals security technologies to become the leading military power, and its intelligence services exploit technology companies such as Huawei and others. US allies have been warned that Using Chinese technology will limit its ability to share intelligence with them.

The article describes China’s further effort, which focuses on influencing politicians, including members of Congress and their aides. Ratcliffe paints a typical scenario: A Chinese-owned U.S. plant employs thousands of American workers. The owner urges the union to influence a local congressional company that promotes legislation against China’s interests, and the plant and its workers will not be harmed. In her re-election if she does not change her position, and so both act, consciously or unknowingly, under the influence of China.

The intelligence chief notes that the American intelligence community has diverted resources and targeting to provide policymakers with credible insights into China’s intentions and actions. If in the Cold War the Soviet Union and Russia were the focus, and since 2001 its own in the dome of the war on terror, it is now quite clear that from now on it is China that should be at the heart of America’s interest. Ratcliffe calls on other nations to understand that all this is true of them as well. In his view, the world is faced with a choice between two conflicting ideologies, as China strives to drag the world back into the dark and halt the spread of freedom in the world, and prepares for an indefinite period of confrontation with the US. Talk about it openly and act against it, and seal in defining the effort as a challenge of our generation.

There is a consensus about China

So far the main points of the article. Which of these is relevant to Israel? The concerns raised by the article are not new, and have already been widely publicized in the United States and around the world. Should Israel also see China as a top threat to its national security? It is important for Israel to read the lines and between them, and identify the main challenges.

On the face of it, Israel is neither the United States nor the League of Powers. China does not threaten to push it out of its place in the world, and it is not a high priority for China’s strategic efforts. Israel is far from East Asia and the Pacific, the main arena for military competition between the powers. However, it is influenced by the export of Chinese weapons to the region. Ideological considerations are not at the heart of Israel’s foreign policy, which is mainly pragmatic.

On the eve of the rise of the Biden administration, there is a great temptation to dismiss the words of the conservative Republican congressman from Texas, whom President Donald Trump appointed just six months ago as intelligence chief, and explain that this is due to political considerations of the outgoing administration or Ratcliffe personally. But the opposite is true. In the polarized United States, an unusual inter-party consensus stands out around seeing China as the main challenge for America, the general public and certainly the security and intelligence establishment. The rivalry with China will certainly continue during President Joe Biden and beyond, along with extensive economic ties with it.

Israel also cannot be indifferent to the question of its weakening, and certainly the deliberate weakening of the United States, whose strength and support are a cornerstone of its national security. As the perception of national security changes in the United States and China is defined as the number one threat, so do the limits allowed to Israel in its relations with China, and “business as usual” cannot be expected.

Too little risk management

Israel considers China an important trading partner, and rightly so. The capital, markets, production capacity and capacity to build China’s infrastructure make a significant contribution to the Israeli economy, and these are expected to grow further. In the last decade, Israel has well recognized this potential as an opportunity and is working to exploit it, but Israel tends to identify the risk side in its relations with China mainly with the US response to them. In government decisions, too little weight is given to risk management. Under pressure from Washington.

The warning about harm to intelligence cooperation was apparently not directed at Israel, whose fifth-generation communications infrastructure would in any case be based on manufacturers from the West and not China, but Ratcliffe detailed a variety of typical Chinese efforts and practices that harmed the U.S., and these outline a possible challenge to Israel.

The high-tech industry is Israel’s main growth engine, and the “Comprehensive Innovation Partnership” established with China in 2017 is designed to exhaust the correlation between Israel’s technological innovation and China’s demand for it. The Israeli government strives to avoid onerous regulation of high-tech, and as a rule leaves the private sector a wide margin of maneuver, except for defense exports.

In this view, industrial and economic espionage is a problem for companies, but the Chinese threat of damage in the US proves that the power relations between a world power and private companies accumulate at heavy prices for the entire economy. Spyware risks in Israel are well known in Israel, and may reveal trade and military secrets. This has been reported in Israel about the leakage of technology or its unconscious transfer from companies, research channels and academic collaborations or talent hunting programs.

Reports of China’s efforts to influence American elected officials are a cause for concern, although unlike other countries, Israel does not have a Chinese immigrant community with the right to vote or be elected. The example of the union chairman and congresswoman emerges a challenging pattern: the Chinese ruling party, through a Chinese business entity, exercises leverage to influence an organized and politically influential group of American citizens to advance a Chinese interest in the United States. In Israel, too, elected officials and officials have an influence on Chinese interests: in legislation, regulation, policy, government tenders and government decisions. Is it possible to outright disqualify a similar pattern of action in Israel, with the participation of business entities, workers’ committees, center members, elected officials and government officials?

Formulate an independent Israeli response

Shifting the resources of the American intelligence community to focus on China comes after decades of focusing on other opponents. Naturally, the intelligence community in Israel is focused on security threats to Israel, most of them in the Middle East, led by Iran. The geographical distance and language and cultural differences from China add difficulty to the resources devoted to it in reduction.

China is not the number one threat to Israel, and it is vital that it does not become one. It is also important to continue to exploit its growing economic benefits, however this while managing risk responsibly. US lessons are warning signs of unique challenges and risks in relations with China, which Israel is also exposed to, and should not ignore. In light of the differences between them, Israel should not directly derive from US experience and policies, but formulate an independent response based on its unique characteristics.

As a first step, it must formulate a relevant attribution to the Chinese challenge to Israel, based on the diverse and rich experience of other relevant countries, which share similar characteristics with it, and in light of which formulate a balanced and responsible response. China does not need to be at the top of Israel’s intelligence priorities, but it needs to increase its intelligence resources and deepen its professional proficiency in its challenges, government and academia.

And finally, it’s important to listen to the tune rising from Washington as well. When there are those in the United States who identify China as the number one threat to it, and describe its confrontation in harsh terms with the challenge of the generation and the war on the Nazis, Israel’s room for maneuver in its relations with China is likely to diminish, while American sensitivity to them should skyrocket. Vital of the strategic ally, but also to devote most attention to her moods, properly to a close and loyal friend in a sensitive period.