US Reportedly Pressing Israel on Security Concerns Over Chinese-Built Port in Haifa
The US has repeatedly pressed Israeli officials to inspect the Chinese-operated port construction project near Haifa. The port is adjacent to Israel’s largest naval base, which the US Navy makes use of.
Sources told Breaking Defense that of primary concern to US officials are the heavy machinery that China’s state-owned Shanghai International Port Group has brought in to complete the project.
Israeli and US security experts are both aware of the relative ease with which a surveillance device could be hidden.
The port’s close proximity to a naval base, if compromised, could pose a security risk for Israel and the US. The concern is not that the Chinese government would be able to find weaknesses to attack the base, but that it would be able to gather intelligence on military equipment and technology.
“It is possible to plant surveillance systems in heavy machinery used in the port and these can transmit what they see or hear,” Gabi Siboni, head of the Israel's Military and Strategic Affairs Program and Cyber Security Program, told the outlet.
The US has long-held security concerns over Chinese investments in allied nations. In August, CIA Director Bill Burns told Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett that the United States was concerned over Chinese tech firms and infrastructure projects being carried out in Israel. The stance is a carryover from the Trump administration, and while Israel does share some concerns raised by the US, the reality is that US firms are unwilling to take all the projects.
The US continues to voice concern over China’s growing economic might as a security threat for itself and its allies. With Chinese state-owned firms continuing to earn lucrative contracts, China is challenging the US’ long-held political and economic influence abroad.