China Railway sues the Israeli government

Seetao 2022-04-20 10:07
  • A consortium of Israeli and Chinese companies recently filed a lawsuit in the Tel Aviv District Court
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Israel's "Jerusalem Post" reported on April 17, 2022 that a consortium of Israeli companies and Chinese companies has filed a lawsuit in the Tel Aviv District Court, suing the Israeli government's municipal transportation company nta for refusing to bid "under illegal pressure from the United States" Local light rail project. A number of people familiar with the matter confirmed the news on the 18th.

Just a few years ago, a consortium of Chinese and Israeli companies won the tender for Tel Aviv's Red Line light rail project, which also uses vehicles made by Chinese companies. Has the Israeli government's attitude toward Chinese companies changed over time?

The Tel Aviv light rail project is the largest government-licensed infrastructure construction project since the founding of Israel. According to the plan, it is divided into red line, green line and purple line. Among them, the red line is constructed by China Railway Corporation and will be completed in February 2020. It is expected to be officially put into operation later in 2022. According to the Jerusalem Post, the latest tenders are for the green and purple lines. The Israeli government announced in January that a consortium of French companies Alstom and an Israeli company won the Green Line tender, and a consortium of Israeli companies and Spanish companies won the Purple Line tender. The report said that preventing the Chinese company from gaining another light rail construction project in Tel Aviv, Israel, was a "major victory for Washington in a multi-year struggle for influence over Israel's infrastructure."

Both the Biden and Trump administrations have reportedly pressured the Israeli government to reject bids from Chinese companies for critical infrastructure projects, particularly in communications and technology, on the grounds that “China uses Israel’s infrastructure projects as backdoors to monitor U.S. interests.” With Chinese companies involved in the development and operation of Israel's new Haifa port, the Trump administration once threatened to end the U.S. Navy's use of the new Haifa port. The Jerusalem Post said, “However, the Israeli government has been reluctant to alienate Beijing. The decision in January was the first time Israel complied, more than a decade after Chinese companies became increasingly involved in Israeli infrastructure and port construction projects. America's line and risk a break with China."

According to Israeli media reports, the plaintiffs in the case include China Railway Construction Group Co., Ltd. (crcc), Israel's urbanics and other companies, which were the lowest bidders in the tender. The plaintiffs allege in their lawsuit that various statements by Israeli and U.S. officials, including Nadav Gorman, the former head of Israel’s Internal Security Service, had indicated that Israel would reject CRCC’s bid at U.S. request. The officials claimed that it would be very "dangerous" if Chinese companies were allowed to continue building infrastructure projects in Israel. The complaint alleges that this was not based on objective evidence, but to curry favor with the United States, ignoring the legality and fairness of the contract. The plaintiffs also argue that the U.S. government has framed the issue in terms of “preventing Chinese espionage against Israel and the United States” in order to gain an unfair advantage in competition with China. Israel's standard contract law does not allow the government to discriminate against Chinese companies simply because of U.S. demands.

The report said that the Israeli court is unlikely to overturn the government, especially the Security Service's "security proposal." The court could hold hearings on the issue and ask the government to provide more details about the "dangers" of Chinese companies, which could lead the government to reassess its decisions or change its procedures for future decisions, allowing Chinese companies to bid lower standards are more clear and transparent. The Jerusalem Post said that there are also strong Beijing defenders in the Israeli establishment, "even in the defense establishment there are such a minority." "Israel just wants to avoid conflict as much as possible."

According to the reporter's understanding on the 18th, the Tel Aviv light rail project is an economic and trade dispute on the surface, but behind it is actually a game of political diplomacy and strength. In recent years, with the continuous enhancement of China's strength, China-Israel friendly cooperative relations have become wider and deeper. More and more Chinese companies are participating in major projects and even acquiring major Israeli companies in Israel, especially in the field of innovation and technology, which naturally arouses more and more concerns, doubts and even anxiety from some parties at home and abroad. But the Tel Aviv light rail project is not a high-tech project, but more of an economic project, but it is also under increasing pressure from the United States.

However, an Israeli foreign ministry official told the Global Times reporter on the 18th that the development of friendly cooperation between China and Israel is Israel's basic position. 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Israel, and both sides agreed to continue to promote the further development of China-Israel relations. Sino-Israeli cooperation will inevitably be affected by Sino-US relations. The most famous example is the decline in Sino-Israeli relations many years ago when Israel was forced to end the sale of early warning aircraft to China under pressure from the United States. But he said the Jews had been wandering and reflecting for thousands of years, confident in their own path and wise enough to safeguard the national interest.Editor/XuNing