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McCarthy warns Israel off of Chinese investments in Jerusalem speech

By Laura Kelly

May 1, 2023

U.S. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy speaks during a joint statement with his Israeli counterpart, Amir Ohana, Israel’s Parliament or Knesset Speaker, for his visit to the Knesset, in Jerusalem, Monday, May 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Monday called for Israel to scrutinize Chinese investments in the country, issuing a stark warning to Jerusalem that Beijing acts as “thieves.”

McCarthy, in a historic address to Israel’s parliament, raised the sensitive issue of Israel’s relations with China, which the U.S. has long warned raises security concerns in the relationship between Washington and Jerusalem.

The speaker called for Israel to strengthen its oversight of Chinese investment in Israel, following Jerusalem’s 2019 establishment of a foreign investment oversight mechanism under pressure from the U.S. over concerns that Beijing was inserting itself in key areas of Israel’s infrastructure and technology industry.

“While the [Chinese Communist Party] may disguise itself as promoters of innovation, in truth, they act like thieves. We must not allow them to steal our technology,” McCarthy said.

“I’m glad that Israel has put into place a process to review foreign investments. I strongly encourage Israel to further strengthen its oversight of foreign investment, particularly Chinese investment, building on the steps that you first took in 2019.”

McCarthy, becoming only the second House Speaker to address Israel’s Knesset, underscored in his speech unity among Republicans and Democrats supporting Israel’s sovereignty and security marking its 75th independence day.

American politicians are also in broad agreement on China being the greatest challenge facing the U.S. — economically, diplomatically, and militarily — and leaders of both parties have worked to bring allies and partners on board toward pressuring Beijing to adhere to global, democratic norms.

McCarthy, whose tenure as speaker began in January, has prioritized confronting China as one of his key foreign policy priorities, establishing in Congress a special committee focused on identifying the greatest risks of U.S. ties with China.

The speaker also hosted Taiwan’s president in California last month, in a move that drew a strong rebuke from Beijing, including sanctions against U.S. institutions and individuals, and provocative military maneuvers around the democratic island.


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