June 15, 2024
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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, May 31.

“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,” Katz stated in the tweet.

In the interview, published on Monday, May 30, 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. He called for increased Israeli-Taiwanese cooperation, warned of a possible Chinese invasion, and advised Israelis to be very wary of relying on Beijing.

The interview was published in the Post‘s print edition on Tuesday.

“China is an authoritarian country, and they do business in a very different philosophy,” said Wu.

Wu 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.”

On May 10, the Chinese embassy sent a letter to the Post, accusing an opinion piece it published over events in the Xinjiang province of being an “anti-China article written by a ‘Xinjiang independence’ separatist,” according to a report by i24News.

At that time, Kan News reported on an Israeli diplomatic cable instructing embassy staffers around the world not to accept invitations from their Taiwanese counterparts to official events. According to Kan, the cable was “an apparent attempt to avoid a diplomatic flare-up with China.”

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not commented on the matter.

Israeli-Taiwanese ties are complicated by Jerusalem’s desire to maintain good relations with China. Jerusalem and Taipei do not have official diplomatic relations. Israeli interests are represented by the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei.

Despite the lack of official ties, the Singapore-based CNA News reports that Israel and Taiwan have signed more than 20 agreements in various areas of bilateral trade, with the volume of trade “exceeding US $2.3 billion, making Taiwan Israel’s fourth largest export destination in Asia” in 2022.

But those figures are dwarfed by Israel’s trade with China.

Israel’s National Bureau of Statistics revealed in January that China overtook the U.S. as the Jewish state’s largest source of imports.

Chinese businesses have taken on a number of major Israeli infrastructure contracts, such as operating the Port of Haifa. Chinese involvement in these projects have raised the concerns of the Trump and Biden administrations.

In January, Israeli officials pledged to notify Washington of significant deals with Beijing.

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