Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Blog-on-Blog: Olmert Goes to China, What Will He Get?

Posted by K.E. White on January 10, 2007

“Shocking” news update: China does not a support a nuclear weaponized Iran.

That is the main thrust of the coverage on Israeli Prime Minister Olmert’s press conference with the Chinese Prime Minister.

Yes, there is other news than President Bush’s predicted call for a troop “surge” in Iraq—with the most recent reports putting the number at 22,000.

In short, the following press read brings out the following points:


  • China (and Russia’s) support of sanctions against Iran are necessary to any effective effort to curtail Iranian nuclear weapons
  • These two countries have a different view of the Iranian threat and reactions to it than the United States:

a) chiefly that the United States in attempting to maintain influence in the region by using the nuclear issue, to the detriment of China and Russia

b) both countries are ready to “play ball”—the question what do they get for cooperation on Iran at a time when America considers China a “strategic rival” and Russia (over American objections) is forcibly restoring their influence in Eastern Europe

So, the question from them to the United States: You can’t have your diplomatic cake and eat it too, but you can have a slice—pick one.

The Jerusalem Post offers a good story on Olmert’s ongoing diplomatic visit to China, today meeting Prime Minister Wen Jiabao:

Olmert’s trip also marks the 15-year anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and China, whose good relations have been marred by occasional political and trade tensions.

From an AP story appearing in the China Daily:

Both Israel and China have emphasized that Olmert’s visit is aimed at strengthening economic and trade ties.

Olmert and Wen met for more than an hour, and aides said the two signed three agreements. The first was a cultural agreement from 2007 to 2010. The second was on protocol requirements for the export of citrus fruit from Israel to China, and the third was a memorandum of understanding on water power between the Beijing city government and the Israeli Ministry of Trade, Industry and Labor.

No details on the agreements were released.

China is now Israel’s third-largest trading partner, following the United States and Germany. According to the federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, Israeli exports to China jumped 31 percent to $740 million (euro565 million) in the first 11 months of last year, compared to $565 million (euro432 million) in the year-earlier period. Imports also rose 29 percent to $2.2 billion (euro1.68 billion) from $1.7 billion (euro1.3 billion) the previous year.

The Israeli official said talks will also center on “the intention of both sides to increase trade to … US$10 billion (euro7 billion) in 2010.”

But Dan Williams over at Swiss Info helps with the bigger part of the story—China’s position on the diplomatic minefield of a nuclear Iran:

Where Olmert get a public statement from China on Iran favorable to their position? Probably not—though this is what is driving the press coverage: Tomorrow Olmert meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

“I believe Iran will try to reach it (threshold), and I believe international pressure will prevent it,” Olmert, whose nation is assumed to have the Middle East’s only atomic arsenal, told reporters.

“My talks (with Wen) were of great depth. I heard surprising things — things both positive and unexpected,” he said. “China made it absolutely clear that it opposes Iran going nuclear, in the sense of obtaining nuclear bombs.”

Olmert, who is to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao on Thursday, declined to elaborate on what Wen said in the meeting.

Where Olmert get a public statement from China on Iran favorable to their position? Probably not—though this is what is driving the press coverage: Tomorrow Olmert meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

If any momentous shift occurs, Proliferation Press will be here to report it and survey the coverage it gets around the globe.

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