Perry: U.S. is worried about Chinese intelligence-gathering, not investments

“I think the Iranians are going to have a more difficult time in influencing the market than they would have maybe 10 years ago,” he said.

By SONIA EPSTEIN
July 22, 2019 20:49
3 minute read.
Perry: U.S. is worried about Chinese intelligence-gathering, not investments

Rick Perry. (photo credit: Courtesy)

It is not Chinese investment in Israel that concerns Washington, but rather that this could be a springboard for intelligence-gathering capabilities, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry said on Monday.

Perry, speaking at a Jerusalem press conference, said: “The thing we try to impress upon all of our allies is that there are areas that China is involved with, particularly with the collection of information, that we have great concern about. The cybersecurity side of things [is] the bigger issue.”

Asked by The Jerusalem Post whether this is an issue he brought up earlier in the day during a meeting with Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, or something he will discuss at a scheduled meeting on Tuesday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Perry said, “We want our allies to be knowledgeable about the activities that the Chinese are involved with.”
The US, Perry said, has “great trust that the leadership of this country will make the right decisions about any investments. There’s a difference between somebody coming in and investing, and the issue of cybersecurity and the collection of information that will go back and be given to the Communist Chinese government.”

The US – from President Donald Trump down – has made clear to Israel its concern about massive Chinese investment in sensitive infrastructure projects in Israel, and has warned that if the issue is not dealt with sufficiently then it would have ramifications on security cooperation between the two countries.

Jerusalem has for more than a year been discussing establishing a mechanism to monitor foreign investments.
Regarding the precarious situation in the Persian Gulf, and concern that the instability of the situation there could cause to the world’s energy markets, Perry said the diversification of the world’s energy markets has made it much more difficult for Iran to single-handedly wreak havoc on the markets.

“There’s a great story here,” he said. “Ten years ago, the United States and Israel were dependent on countries to supply their energy that weren’t necessarily our friends. Today the United States is the number one oil- and gas-producing country in the world. Israel is about to be an exporter of natural gas. Those are some stunning developments because of innovation and because of, I think, the free market mentality that’s out there.”

Perry said this diversification of sources of energy “should help keep a steady supply of fuel, whether it’s crude, whether it’s natural gas, whether its secondary products that come out of that. I think you’ll see less displacement of the market when there is an event like we see happening.

“I think the Iranians are going to have a more difficult time in influencing the market than they would have maybe 10 years ago,” he said.

Perry said that in his conversations with his counterparts around the world, the goal – “whether you’re in Saudi Arabia, or if you’re the United States – is to have a steady supply in the market so you don’t have these spikes.”
In March, Reuters reported that Perry approved six secret authorizations by companies to sell nuclear power technology and assistance to Saudi Arabia, which hopes to build two nuclear power plants.

Asked whether he was going to give any assurances on this matter to Netanyahu, Perry said he would give the same assurances that the US gives any leader when the US goes into a civil nuclear agreement with any country.
Perry said his position, and that of the US government, is that if there is going to be a civil nuclear agreement anywhere in the world, the US should be involved because of its nonproliferation posture.

“The Chinese, the Koreans, the Russians, they don’t have that nonproliferation mentality. So I think it’s very important that we have this conversation that the US be involved,” he said.

Perry said that he first met Netanyahu in 1992 in Jerusalem, and that neither of them imagined that Perry would be the governor of Texas for 14 years, and Netanyahu the prime minister of Israel for more than 13.

Perry said he wanted to echo a congratulation Trump tweeted to Netanyahu on Sunday for bypassing David Ben-Gurion as the country’s longest serving prime minister.

“His vision and leadership has changed the course of history,” Perry said. “It has made Israel the country that it is today. The bilateral relationship between the United States and Israel: it’s built on a foundation of strong economic and security cooperation.”


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