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Between Beijing and Washington: Israel's Technology Transfers to China

  • Yoram Evron
Abstract

Technological ties between Israel and China have always been a central and constant element of their relationship. Defense contracts played a leading role here but were also responsible for the severe crisis that erupted between the countries in the early 2000s after Israel, capitulating to US pressure, backed off from its commitment to provide China with military technologies. This not only forced Israel to sever its defense relations with China but also made US-Israel relations a principal factor in the Sino-Israeli connection and imposed tight constraints on Israel's technology transfers to China generally. For Israel, this placed the dilemma of commercial versus political and national security interests at the forefront, since technology connections allowed it to promote its economic, political, and strategic causes through China. Indeed, while technology ties between the states have not stopped entirely—they have shifted to the civilian sphere—technology transfers to China are subject to heavy limitations, and Israel's export control mechanism faces greater challenges to screen them. As China's economic and political influence is ever increasing, Israel's cautious approach to technology transfers to China may be expected to come under mounting pressure.

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