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Indo-Israel Ties Worry China?
|by Dr. Rajinder Puri|
Recently CPI-M General Secretary Prakash Karat and his non-card carrying comrade Mani Shankar Aiyer participated in a seminar in Delhi. Both lashed out against the Indian government for accepting arms aid from Israel and thereby ignoring the plight of the Palestinians.
During the last decade India has replaced China as the largest recipient of arms from Israel. For over a decade Israel was the biggest arms supplier to China. Until American Neo-Conservatives, particularly Douglas Feith who was deputy to Donald Rumsfeld in the US Defence establishment, leaned heavily on Israel to curtail aid to China. Is China uncomfortable over being replaced by India as the largest recipient of Israeli arms? Possibly.
On September 28 China’s ambassador to Israel, Zhao Jun, gave a gushing press interview praising Israel in unusually extravagant terms. "I am China's ambassador in Israel. I love Israel … The friendship between Israel and the Chinese people has been going on for over 1,000 years, including during the Holocaust when Jewish refugees were given shelter in China although China was in dire straits, under a Japanese attack."
The Ambassador evaded all uncomfortable questions related to Beijing wooing the Islamic powers. When questioned why China did not share Israel’s concerns regarding the Iranian threat he replied: “That's not true. We are against the development of a nuclear weapon by the Iranians, but Iran has the right to use nuclear energy for civilian purposes. We agree with Washington's stand on this matter. We believe that the nuclear problem must be solved through a dialogue between the sides, and China definitely takes part in these discussions."
When asked for China’s stance on President Ahmadinejad’s threat to destroy Israel he said: “We have made it clear, to the Iranians as well, that we are against countries using such threats."
When it was pointed out that China was aiding the Palestinian Authority he replied: "We help them build schools, roads and infrastructure. We have completed a number of economic projects and continue to help through our office in Ramallah." Asked about peace prospects between Israel and PA he said: “China has always supported the peace process. This is China's consistent stand, that all sides involved in the Middle Eastern issue will solve the differences between them properly through negotiations based on the relevant UN resolutions."
The Ambassador could afford to take Beijing’s traditional hard line on Tibet and Taiwan because these did not directly affect Israel. He ended up with prospects of enhanced economic gains for Israel from China. He concluded: "We believe in and support integrating the Israeli mind in the Chinese market in order to generate those same miracles you have created in this small country. History has taught us that we are true friends."
One should not read too much in one interview. But the need for an ambassador who has served in Israel for the last three years to suddenly come up with unstinted love for Israel and evasion on all issues uncomfortable to Israel does raise eyebrows. This interview was given during his visit to China. Obviously its timing and content was inspired by Beijing. Is the timing of our Indian card carrying and non-card carrying comrades criticizing Israeli arms sales to India almost simultaneous with this gushing interview entirely a coincidence? President Obama visits India in November. Pakistan is increasingly being seen as a nation torn by internal dissensions. Many actions of its army are creating distrust in the US administration. The future of its President appears uncertain. South Asia is in great flux before the Obama visit. Could India play its cards right and help make the visit a game changing success?
New Delhi rarely thinks ahead. But Beijing does.
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09/29/2010 22:33 PM
09/29/2010 11:06 AM