- Israel’s government declined a request last year by the Trump administration to allow the US Coast Guard to inspect the port at Haifa for Chinese surveillance capabilities.
The revelation on Monday marks the latest development in a three-year disagreement between Israel’s government and US officials over a Chinese majority state-owned company assuming management of the port this year.
Shanghai International Port Group Co. (SIPG) signed a deal with Israel’s Transportation Ministry in 2015 to build up and run Haifa’s commercial port. The deal prompted objections from the US government in 2018, as ships from the US Navy’s 6th Fleet frequent an adjacent Israeli navy base. The base at Haifa reportedly houses Israeli nuclear weapons-capable submarines.
The United States has cautioned that its Navy may no longer use the site if the Chinese state-owned company takes over management of the port. SIPG has committed more than $2 billion to expand and upgrade the port and is set to run it for 25 years under the agreement.
US officials are concerned that the company could enable Beijing to spy on the US Navy and its activities with Israel’s forces. The US government has accused Chinese companies of theft of American companies’ trade secrets and of collaboration with the People’s Liberation Army.
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