China making deep inroads into Israel's infrastructure

Amiram Barkat

The Israeli public has interests liable to be affected by excessive influence in the hands of the Chinese government.

The sale of the Alon Tavor power station to a consortium of Mivtach Shamir Holdings Ltd. (TASE:MISH), Rapac Communication and Infrastructure Ltd. (TASE: RPAC), and China Harbor will probably be sent soon to the Committee for the Reduction of Concentration for consideration. Among other things, the committee will examine the holdings of Meir Shamir and Rapac's controlling shareholders in other economic sectors, but it will probably ignore the elephant in the room.

China Harbor is building a new port in Ashdod and competing in a series of tenders for key infrastructure projects. China Harbor, however, is only one of a group of Chinese companies, all of which have the same owner - the Chinese government. All of these companies operate according to the instructions and interests of the Chinese government.

It is difficult to point to a single tender in which Chinese companies do not have a prominent presence, even without listing other areas in which the Chinese are becoming dominant: high tech, food, and conventional industry. Chinese companies are also showing interest in the natural gas reservoirs and other energy sectors. I am not hinting that there is anything wrong with this per se. There is no reason to attribute malicious intent to the Chinese, but there is definitely cause for regarding the growing Chinese involvement as a macroeconomic and economy-wide phenomenon - something that the state cannot continue to ignore.

Even assuming that the reports of increasing opposition by parties in the US administration to giving a franchise to a Chinese company to operate the new port in Haifa are incorrect, and even assuming that the US has no objection to Chinese companies operating in Israel, building power stations, supplying railway cars, and digging tunnels, are US interests the only reason for considering the Chinese question? Does the Israeli public not have economic and consumer interests liable to be affected by the growing over-concentration of holdings in the hands of the Chinese player?

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on July 2, 2019

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2019

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