Hong Kong’s Millennial Dissidents: Jillian Kay Melchior, WSJ, Aug. 9, 2019
Jews Must Not Be Silent As Hong Kong Struggles To Be Free: Frederick Krantz, Isranet.org, Sept. 2019
There’s A Growing Sore Spot In Israeli-U.S. Relations: China: Emily Feng, NPR, Sept. 11, 2019
China has well and truly arrived in the Middle East. After years of relative passivity, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is now making a concerted effort to expand its strategic presence and economic clout in the region.
For Middle East nations, Beijing’s newfound drive for regional prominence is one of the most consequential—albeit least reported—trends of recent years. It holds the power to reshape regional markets as local governments increasingly reorient their economies to take advantage of Chinese outreach and largesse. But the proliferation of Chinese political and economic influence also increasingly threatens to upend longstanding regional security arrangements and fragment solidarity in the Islamic world. The spread of China’s model of technologically-empowered censorship, meanwhile, carries with it the potential to reinforce some of the worst political impulses of the region’s autocrats.
China’s invigorated regional agenda is as significant as it is sudden. Just a few years ago, Chinese engagement with the Middle East could be said to be confined to just two priorities. The first was the sale of arms to weapons-hungry client states in the region, most conspicuously the Islamic Republic of Iran. The second was the acquisition of regional energy resources to fuel the ongoing expansion of the Chinese economy.
No longer. The last several years have witnessed an explosion of Chinese interest in and involvement with the region.
Reuven Rivlin (right), president of Israel, meets with Chinese vice president Wang Qishan, Jerusalem, October 2018. The longstanding strategic ties between Jerusalem and Washington are being directly—and adversely—impacted by China’s deepening economic presence in the Jewish state.
Politically, this has been reflected in a spate of high-level contacts between Chinese leaders and regional heads of state. Perhaps the most visible of these was King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud’s 2017 visit to Beijing, during which the Saudi monarch inked a memorandum of understanding with Chinese president Xi Jinping to explore a staggering US$65 billion in joint ventures. Equally significant were President’s Xi’s 2016 visits to Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Egypt, and his subsequent jaunt to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last year, all of which were intended to reinforce to regional rulers that the Middle East is increasingly important in the calculus of China’s leaders.
Economically, too, China’s regional presence is growing by leaps and bounds. A decade ago, the Middle East as a whole received just $1 billion in total Chinese annual investment. Today, that figure is exponentially higher. At last summer’s Ministerial Meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) in Beijing, Chinese officials pledged a massive $23 billion in loans and development aid to the countries of the region. China is now deeply involved in numerous construction and infrastructure projects around the region, from Kuwait’s planned “Silk City” to Oman’s port of Duqm. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
Hong Kongers have spent the past 10 weeks protesting to protect their liberty and legal autonomy from Chinese encroachment. “We’re not optimistic, but we don’t calculate,” Nathan Law, one of the territory’s best-known activists, told me at the start of it. “We just do what we think is right. And if we don’t do this, we’ll regret it.” Noting that so far no one has been killed protesting, Mr. Law remarks this week: “I always think we are so lucky.”
I first met Mr. Law, 26, in June, during the first week of Hong Kong’s protests. He scarfed down a cinnamon danish at a Starbucks in the Sheung Wan district. With his glasses, lightly wrinkled T-shirt and backpack, he had the sleep-deprived demeanor of a student during finals week. His youth belies his deep political experience.
As an undergraduate, Mr. Law helped lead Hong Kong’s 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement, the precursor to today’s protests. “I didn’t have much time to study,” he says, sounding genuinely apologetic. He later became the youngest person ever elected to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council. That drew the eye—and the ire—of Beijing, which intervened to have him unseated and imprisoned.
Mr. Law insisted in June that most Hong Kong youths share his yearning for democracy and fear of Chinese communism. His peers have proved him right. The political crisis began when the Legislative Council, dominated by lawmakers sympathetic to Beijing, rushed to enact a bill that would allow China to extradite people in Hong Kong to the mainland. Millions took to the streets in protest. Chief Executive Carrie Lam backed down and declared the bill “dead,” but opponents are not reassured because she hasn’t withdrawn it fully. She has also refused protesters’ demands to resign, to investigate police brutality against demonstrators, to release and exonerate those who have been arrested, and to retract claims that they were “rioting” on June 12.
Since June 9, Hong Kong police have arrested almost 600 people and fired more than 1,800 rounds of tear gas and 160 rubber bullets at demonstrators. “I myself have been tear-gassed numerous times, and some cans of the tear gas exploded just by my feet,” Mr. Law says. Earlier this week, he watched police on a high perch firing tear gas into the crowd below. He worries “if they hit someone, and the particular person does not wear a helmet, then it will cause serious damage.” Thugs in plain clothes have beaten protesters and bystanders with batons and rods, sending dozens to the hospital. The pro-democracy camp suspects the attackers belong to organized-crime triads and acted with the approval of the government. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
One of the most enduring modern images summing up mankind’s indomitable drive for freedom was the deeply moving image of a single unarmed man in a white shirt courageously bringing a massive, hulking Red Army tank column to a halt, during the ultimately crushed June, 1989 Tienanmen Square student demonstrations.
Today, it behooves all people of goodwill, committed to liberty and freedom, and particularly Jews and the democratic Jewish state of Israel, to support the Hong Kong freedom movement. The long Jewish experience of resisting oppression, anti-Semitism, pogroms, Holocaust and anti-Israel terrorism, should predispose us to recognize and support the Hong Kongers’ legitimate struggle for human rights and freedom.
We are witnessing today In Hong Kong a replay of that 1989 drama, the resolution of which may well—without international political and moral solidarity–tragically repeat China’s bloody earlier 1989 suppression. The massive demonstrations today, also student-led, replicate the crowds back then, which some observers estimated at over a million, with the Peoples’ Republic Army repression probably resulting (figures are hard to come by, as Peking suppressed all information) in thousands of deaths and casualties.
Then, demonstrators expressed their hope by building a papier-maché Statue of Liberty in the Square; today, they carry U.S. and Union Jack flags, and sing the State-Spangled Banner in front of the U.S. Consulate.
These courageous young people must not again be abandoned by the source of their democratic ideals, the Western democracies. And here, again, Jews, who know only too well the consequences of such abandonment, have an important part to play.
Hong Kong, historically part of pre-modern China, became a British colony in the nineteenth century (ceded in 1842 by the Qing dynasty), and was occupied by Japan from 1941-1945. Chinese people had no knowledge or history of antisemitism, and China long boasted small but vibrant Jewish communities (Kaifeng; Harbin [Manchuria]; Shanghai), reinforced just before and during World War II by a steady stream of Jewish refugees, who sought and found succor largely in Shanghai.
(China—largely under the Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek, rather than the emerging Communist movement under Mao Tse-tung–resisted the Japanese invasion of 1937. China played a key role in aiding the success of America’s Pacific campaign by tying down over a million Japanese troops, thousands of aircraft, and other war materiel and resources. And it is now estimated that up to thirty million Chinese lost their lives during WWII, fighting and suffering exploitation by Tokyo’s occupation forces.)
The Jewish and Chinese peoples, the world’s two oldest, enduring civilizations, share many characteristics: an emphasis on family, community and tradition, and a deep respect for learning. Indeed, modern Israel and China today enjoy increasingly close and mutually-beneficial economic, technological and military relations. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
The Trump administration has shown unwavering support for the Israeli government, except for one major criticism: China’s growing influence in the Israeli economy. Chinese companies have invested in strategic Israeli infrastructure, from shipping to electricity to public transportation, and they have bought up millions of dollars in stakes in cutting-edge technology startups.
Where Israel sees an opportunity to access the world’s second-largest economy, the United States sees security threats posed by its main adversary. “For us in the United States, the long-term threat from China is the greatest national security threat we face,” U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood told a security conference in Herzliya, Israel, this summer. “China has tremendous ambitions and President-for-life Xi ambitions to be a global power and, over time, replace the U.S. as the preeminent global power.”
Some Israeli startups now have begun shying away from attractive Chinese investment offers, afraid that the U.S. could retaliate by barring them from operating in America down the line if they have any Chinese involvement.
Tensions surround reported U.S. demands that Israel restrict Chinese investments in Israeli infrastructure and technology. President Trump warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in March that U.S.-Israeli defense and intelligence cooperation could be harmed if Israel does not act, the news website Axios reported. “If certain systems go in certain places then America’s efforts to work alongside you will be more difficult, and in some places, we won’t be able to do so,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview with Israeli television. “Intelligence sharing might have to be reduced, co-location of security facilities might have to be reduced, we want to make that sure countries understand this and know the risks.”
Israeli national security officials are working to form an oversight body, modeled after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, to screen deals for risks. “A committee on foreign investment in Israel should be viewed as an essential means to protect Israel’s critical national assets from outside influence and possible damage, and nothing else,” Jacob Nagel, Israel’s former national security adviser, wrote in March.
The U.S. has tightened restrictions on Chinese investments in sensitive U.S. technologies, like quantum computing and artificial intelligence, and it has been urging allies to do the same. U.S. officials accuse Israel of dragging its feet, according to Axios. “In our view, foreign investment in Israel — like foreign investment in the United States — should take place within the confines of strong regulatory structures that ensure all companies investing in Israel do so in a responsible manner, consistent with international practices,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told NPR. “Foreign investment should benefit the people of Israel, not undermine Israeli national security.” … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
For Further Reference:
The Evolving Israel-China Relationship: Shira Efron, Howard J. Shatz et al, RAND Corp., 2019 — Since the early 2000s, relations between China and Israel have expanded rapidly in numerous areas, including diplomacy, trade, investment, construction, educational partnerships, scientific cooperation, and tourism.
Hong Kong and the Truth About China: Claudia Rosett, WSJ, Sept. 2, 2019 — ‘Tell the truth about China!” has become a rallying cry for protesters in Hong Kong.
Kelly McParland: What’s Xi Jinping to Do? China’s Troubles are Piling Up Fast: Kelly McParland, National Post, Aug. 8, 2019 — Xi Jinping can’t be a happy camper these days. It’s impossible to know what goes on in the netherworld of China’s corridors of power, but one assumes the ruthlessness and ambitions common to every other political stage in the world are no less for being utterly hidden from public view.
NP View: A Reprieve for Hong Kong, but Only for Now: Editorial, National Post, Sept. 6, 2019 — China’s willingness to allow withdrawal of a contentious Hong Kong extradition bill is a significant concession, but should not be misinterpreted as a show of weakness or a softening of resolve in Beijing.
WATCH: Victim’s Son Blasts Rep. Ilhan Omar At 9/11 Memorial Ceremony: “Some People Did Something?” “Why Your Confusion?”: Realclearpolitics, Sept. 11, 2019 — Wednesday at the remembrance and name-reading ceremony for the 18th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, Nic Haros brought politics into the event, criticizing Rep. Ilhan Omar’s comments about the attacks.
CIJR’s French-language weekly briefing is titled: Communique: L’Europe tente de sauver l’accord sur le nucléaire iranien, Israël et les États-Unis résiste (13 septembre, 2019)