Jerusalem’s weapons trade with Peking spans a decade
by Martin Sieff, Washington
in Jewish Chronicle, London, March 20, 1992
Leaked US intelligence reports that Israel has transmitted Patriot missile technology to China – firmly denied in Jerusalem – have highlighted Israel’s multi-billion dollar arms-trade relationship with Peking.
The ties have been developing for more than a decade, despite the absence of diplomatic relations and Peking’s pro-Arab Middle East policies.
Among key figures in the relationship is one of the wealthiest men in Israel, Mr Shaul Eisenberg, who has large business interests in Asia. Mr Eisenberg, a Holocaust survivor who, according to intelligence sources, also has helped fund the Israeli secret service, has close links with Mr Ya’acov Nimrodi, another arms dealer, who last month bought the late Robert Maxwell’s shares in the daily newspaper, Ma’ariv.
A recent Rand Corporation report, "Chinese arms production and sales to the Third World", noted that Israel’s weapons’ trade with Peking expanded greatly after the June, 1989, Tiananmen Square massacre. The report added that it had been a multi-million dollar business 10 years before that.
Israel and China established diplomatic relations only at the beginning of this year. But as long ago as 1984, the highly respected British defence magazine, Jane’s Defence Weekly, reported that Israel had sold $3 billion worth of arms to China.
According to the New York publication, MidEast Report, Israel military supplies to China include communications equipment, cannon for Soviet-made tanks, night vision scopes, air-to-air missile technology and electronic fire systems for artillery and tanks manufactured by Elbit, an Israeli electronics company.
Mr Eisenberg developed his ties with the Chinese during the Second World War, when he was a refugee in Shanghai. He built a shipping company, United Development Inc., which in the 1950s and 1960s dominated the oil tanker trade between Indonesia and Japan.
In the 1980s, United Development maintained offices in Peking, Tianin, Shanghai, Canton and Hong Kong.
Mr Eisenberg is also close to Mr Al Schwimmer, the American-Jewish businessman who founded and built Israel Aircraft Industries. Informed sources say that IAI was at the forefront of the developing weapons trade with Peking.
When the former Soviet Union was arming Israel’s main enemies – Iraq, Syria, Libya and the PLO – the Israelis were happy to build up China as a counterweight to the USSR.
Ironically, by helping China’s arms industry, Israel may have indirectly given its enemies new weapons. China has sold M-class ballistic missiles to Iran, and Syria and medium-range missiles to Saudi Arabia.