Chinese embassy lashes out at McCarthy for criticizing Beijing in his Knesset speech

Diplomatic mission to Israel accuses US House speaker of seeking ‘to sow discord’ after he told MKs Beijing’s ruling party acts ‘like thieves’ and urged closer investment oversight

US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy speaks at a special session of the Knesset plenum, May 1, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy speaks at a special session of the Knesset plenum, May 1, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Chinese embassy in Israel slammed US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday, accusing him of seeking “to sow discord” between Jerusalem and Beijing by criticizing China over its trade practices and human rights record in a speech to the Knesset.

In his address Monday, McCarthy hailed cooperation between the United States and Israel on technological development but warned that “our innovation is at risk from a new threat: the Chinese Communist Party,” whom he accused of acting “like thieves.”

The senior Republican lawmaker also urged Israel to increase scrutiny of Chinese investment and bashed the UN Human Rights Council for passing resolutions against the Jewish state while turning “a blind eye to true human rights violations” by countries like China.

“China expresses its firm opposition and strong condemnation of the remarks of the speaker of the House of Representatives. This is an effort to drive a wedge between China and Israel,” the embassy said in a statement quoted by the Kan public broadcaster.

Using a phrase frequently evoked by Chinese leaders, the Chinese diplomatic mission hailed the “win-win” character of Israel-China relations and said cooperation between the two nations was not directed at any other country.

“We send a stern message to those American politicians with hidden motives: China’s development and prosperity will not be shaken by containment and suppression; China’s international image will not be contaminated by slander; and China’s friendly cooperation with other countries will not be undermined by those trying to sow discord,” the embassy added.

Under successive presidents, Washington has expressed concern regarding Israel’s warming economic ties with China, with a US government official calling in December for Jerusalem to take greater action to defend the local tech industry from Chinese influence.

But despite a US-China trade war that has ebbed and flowed in recent years under both the Trump and Biden administrations, Israel and China have seen warming relations and more interest in Israeli innovations, especially in medical tech, robotics, food tech and artificial intelligence.

Washington’s main concerns lie in potential dual-usage technologies, where various technologies would have both civilian and military applications. At the same time, Israel has regulations in place to prevent the sale of sensitive military-related technology to China (and other countries), following a 1990s deal in which Israel had to scrap the sale of advanced airborne radar systems to China amid fierce US opposition.

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