Tags: China | Israel | Trump Administration | water | desalination | business | pandemic

US Asks Israel to Explain Role of Chinese-Controlled Company in Big Plant Bid

a man in front of an israeli flag shakes another man's hand in front of a chinese flag
(Dreamstime)

By    |   Saturday, 02 May 2020 02:15 PM

The Trump administration is asking Israel to explain the role of a Chinese-controlled company that bid on a $1.5 billion desalination plant — potentially putting an ally in the middle of U.S.-China tensions, Axios reported.

The project, called "Sorek B," is expected to be the biggest desalination plant in the world and to produce 200 million cubic meters of water annually — a quarter of the water Israel uses annually, Barak Ravid of Israel's Channel 13 news wrote for Axios.

The company that wins the bid would build the plant and operate it for 25 years.

According to Ravid, Israel officials said one of the questions from the Trump administration, including U.S. Amb. David Friedman, was why a bid from "Hutchinson Israel" did not go through a monitoring committee.

"Hutchinson Israel" is controlled by the Chinese company Hutchinson in Hong Kong, and is among the entities that have reached the final stages of the bid process. And Israeli officials say it has a good chance of winning, Ravid wrote.

The Israelis told their U.S. counterparts the bid was issued a year before the committee was even formed and did not fall under its mandate, Ravid wrote.

The Trump administration is concerned because the project is near an Israeli military base that hosts U.S. troops and because of the size of the project, Ravid wrote.

"The Americans are speaking to us about this very politely but it is clear they would like us to review the Chinese participation in the [bid]," Israeli officials told Ravid.

But because the Trump administration sees China as its main adversary around the world, Israeli officials are concerned the "Hutchinson Israel" bid could put Israel in the middle of the U.S.-China tensions.

A U.S. Embassy official declined comment to Ravid, but said "as with all of our allies and friends around the world, we remain engaged in dialogue with Israel about the best way to review potential foreign investment and economic activities with a view on their impact on national security."

The Israeli ministry of finance is expected to announce the bid winner May 24.

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Potentially putting an ally in the middle of U.S.-China tensions, the Trump administration is asking Israel to explain the role of a Chinese-controlled company that bid on a $1.5 billion desalination plant, according to Axios.
water, desalination, business, pandemic, trade war, ally
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2020-15-02
Saturday, 02 May 2020 02:15 PM
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