- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 22, 2014

Efraim Halevy, the former head of Mossad — Israel’s Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations — warned that China’s recent buy-out of a large food production company in Israel could mean big security threats for the Jewish nation.

“The fact that Israel’s largest food company is owned by the Chinese government will lead to the company’s financial conduct serving Chinese interests,” Mr. Halevy warned, Ynet News reported.

He was referring to a just-forged agreement between China’s Bright Food and Israel’s dairy Tnuva firm. China is planning to buy 56 percent of the dairy company from the private equity firm, Apax, Ynet News said.

But that’s a big mistake, Mr. Halevy said.

“The company buying Tnuva is owned by the Chinese government,” he said. “This is not a company owned by a private Chinese businessman. This allows the Chinese government to make immediate decisions as it sees fit.”

Israel’s food supply and economy are at risk, he said.

“Food production is today one of the sectors included in the frame of national security,” Mr. Halevy said, Ynet News reported. “There is a concept called ‘food security.’ This is an important subject for every country in the world and there are countries that go as far as to purchase or long-term lease agricultural land in other nations for future food production.”

He said Israel, as well as nations friendly to Israel, ought to focus on producing its own food.

“Tnuva is the largest food company in Israel and it is only appropriate that the largest food companies in every country are controlled by local sources, not owned by foreign governments,” he said, Ynet News reported. “China, with good reason, does not allow foreign firms to control its food production companies, and it knows why.”

He also admitted that he couldn’t specify what China would do with this purchase, but warned of the national security risk just the same.

“I do not know what China will do,” he said. “I am not a prophet. But from this moment on, the asset is China‘s, and it will exploit this asset for security and financial purposes, because food is a component of national security.”

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