The new facility, which aims to boost Israel’s presence in maritime trade, has been operational since September 1. A .7 billion investment managed by the Shanghai International Port Group. The aim is to become a regional hub, counting on growing ties with Arab nations. Washington against the Beijing-Jerusalem axis.
Haifa (AsiaNews) – Israel has inaugurated a new commercial port dedicated to trade in the Mediterranean, in a move aimed at boosting competitiveness and strengthen its presence in a sector plagued by delays and non-deliveries also due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Israel wants to become a regional hub, through a structure built in the Bay of Haifa, which will be managed by the Chinese giant Shanghai International Port Group (Sipg), the result of a renewed axis between Jerusalem and Beijing that is a source of growing concern for Washington.
The first private commercial port of call in the Jewish State cost .7 billion and has been operational since September 1. It will allow large cargo ships of 18,000 containers and more to dock on Israeli shores. The government has started selling state-owned ports to encourage the construction of new ones with the aim of cutting costs and cutting waiting times in loading and unloading operations.
Approximately 99% of goods entering and leaving Israel arrive by sea, and an upgrade of the infrastructure is both necessary and fundamental to sustain economic growth. Improved relations with Arab countries in the region, from the UAE to Bahrain, will create additional business opportunities and Haifa has all the necessary characteristics to become a regional hub. In addition, a port in Ashdod, operated by Swiss Terminal Investment Limited, is scheduled to open by the end of the year.
Chinese control of the commercial port of Haifa and Beijing’s growing investment in Israel are a source of tension with the United States, which opposes a link that has been strengthening over the past decade. Washington fears that the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet, which docks at the port of Haifa from time to time, could be vulnerable to the Dragon’s intelligence and surveillance systems, which would then acquire a dominant position in the planetary cyber war.
Despite its ties with the White House, in recent years the Israeli government led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has strengthened its strategic and commercial partnership with China. Netanyahu himself met Chinese President XI Jinping in Beijing in 2017 and hosted Vice President Wang Qishan in Jerusalem in 2018.
Doron Ella, an expert on Chinese affairs at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, told al-Monitor that Beijing’s investments in the Jewish state barely reach 10%, far less than those of the US and Europe. The US concern, however, concerns Chinese investments in “sensitive” technological sectors.
Beijing responded promptly through the spokesman of the Chinese embassy in Israel, Wang Yongjun, who wrote in an article in the Jerusalem Post that the Jewish State “must not take sides” in the dispute. China,” he added, “is against the Cold War mentality” and respects the “independence” of individual states “in all fields”, denying any involvement in the cyber attacks.