With Israel offering much-needed technical expertise and China representing a huge new market and influential voice in the international debate over Iran’s nuclear program, the two nations have stepped up military cooperation as they patch up a rift caused by a pair of arms deals scuttled by the U.S.
The improved ties have been highlighted by last week’s visit to Beijing by Israel’s military chief and a training mission to Israel by the Chinese paramilitary force that, among other things, polices the restive Tibetan and Muslim Uighur regions.
After their meeting last week, both China’s chief of staff, Gen. Chen Bingde, and his Israeli counterpart, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, hailed the growing ties and held out the possibility of even closer military cooperation.
Gen. Chen told the official China Daily that China “attaches importance to the ties with the Israeli military and is willing to make concerted efforts with the Israeli side to deepen pragmatic cooperation.”
Such comments are a remarkable turnaround from just a few years ago, when ties deteriorated after the failed arms deals.
Israel and China est ablished diplomatic relations in 1992, and the two countries traded military technology for nearly a decade. Some military analysts believe that Israel helped China develop its J-10 fighter plane during the 1990s, a claim that both countries have denied.
These ties suffered a blow in 2000, when the U.S. pressured Israel to cancel the sale of a sophisticated radar system to China, fearing it could alter the balance of power with Taiwan. The cancellation infuriated China, cost Israel hundreds of millions of dollars, and frayed ties.
Then, in 2005, the U.S. persuaded Israel not to service spare parts for unmanned aircraft drones already sold to China, concerned that it would upgrade China’s airborne anti-radar capability. Israeli officials say that Israel has since halted weapons sales to China.
But in recent months, relations have begun to improve.
Last June, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak traveled to China. Gen. Chen, the Chinese military chief, visited Israel in August, and in December, Israel’s paramilitary Border Police unit hosted a delegation from the People's Armed Police.
During the monthlong course, “cadets were taught a variety of information, with an emphasis on fighting terror, dealing with disturbances, self-defense, open-field combat and more,” according to an Israeli police statement. It was the first such exercise, police said.View Entire Story
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