Secret Visit by Chairman of China's National People's Congress to Israel Military Industries
Ha'aretz, Wednesday, December 1, 1999
The Chairman of China's National People's Congress, Li Peng, secretly visited Israel Military Industries yesterday, where he surveyed an aircraft fitted with the AWACS radar system that has been prepared especially for the Chinese air force. The visit had not been coordinated with the Defense Ministry and was added to the official's timetable at the last moment.
The American magazine Aviation Week and Space Technology reports in its latest issue that the U.S. government has requested Israel to reconsider its deal with the Chinese. American air force experts claim that the system is capable of locating stealth aircraft and cruise missiles. They estimate that China will need four planes fitted with the system to operate 24 hours a day around the year. The periodical also claims that Israel has offered the system to India, South Korea and Turkey.
A senior source in Israel Military Industries called the American stance cynical and hypocritical.
Li wanted to visit Israel Military Industries in order to view the progress of the AWACS plane. Li Peng was welcomed by the company's chairman, Uri Or, and CEO Moshe Karet. His visit was shrouded in secrecy, even the head of the company's media department and its spokeswoman were not informed.
The early-warning system was built by Alta, a daughter company of Israel Military Industries and is considered a leader in the field. The system provides information on a 360 degree range of up to 360 kilometers. Along with locating stealth planes, it can also recognize warning systems in enemy planes.
The magazine adds that Israel has promised the United States that the system does not include American technology and that it had informed the U.S. government back in 1996 of its deal with the Chinese. The Israelis are asking why the American government did not involve itself when the British offered a similar system to the Chinese.
Israel is concerned about current pressure from the United States to cancel the deal with the Chinese.
The fear is that the Republican controlled
Congress may threaten Israel's security aid if
Israel does not comply.
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