Curb China arms sales, Israel told - Taipei Times
Sat, Jan 04, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Curb China arms sales, Israel told

SENSITIVE TECHNOLOGY The US fears Beijing might use sophisticated weaponry in a conflict with Taiwan, but some Israelis believe their arms firms are being sidelined


The US has asked Israel to curb sales of advanced military technology to China, citing concern that it could be used to threaten Taiwan, the State Department said Thursday.

Even technology that is produced by Israel without US help is under scrutiny for its strategic implications, spokesman Richard Boucher said.

"It's an ongoing subject of discussion with the government of Israel," Boucher said, confirming reports from Jerusalem. "It's based entirely on strategic concerns that the United States has."

Two years ago, submitting to US pressure, Israel abandoned a deal to supply China with a sophisticated airborne radar system. The Pentagon had warned that the early warning planes could be used in an armed conflict with Taiwan.

Israel was forced to pay US$350 million as compensation after it canceled the contract, but realistically had no alternative but to yield to the US, its closest ally as Israel tries to maintain its military edge over potential foes.

Meanwhile, the State Department has accused the two largest American aerospace companies, Hughes Electronics Corp and Boeing Satellite Systems Inc, of illegally transferring sensitive US space technology to China in the 1990s that may have been used in a missile program.

In the past decade, Israel has managed to establish strong ties with China and India, both of which were cool to the Jewish state for years, and also to strengthen relations with Turkey, a mostly secular Muslim state bent on modernizing.

Israel's highly developed technology and its military might are attractive to the three countries, and they were willing to risk Arab disapproval and draw closer to the Jewish state.

According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, some Israeli officials believed the real reason for US opposition to sales to China was a desire by American munitions companies to break into China's market.

However, Boucher said, "Any allegations that are based on commercial considerations are unfounded."

Rather, he said, US officials in talking to their Israeli counterparts had "made very clear the strategic implications for US security" of technology trade with China.

"The United States and Israel share many strategic interests, and just as we are sensitive to Israel's strategic interests we believe that Israel should be and is sensitive to ours," the spokesman said.

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