Super Cities №188 — China's Bank Shot In Israel

Brendan Hart

One Big Thing

Hacking Israel at Scale

"A recent survey by the Israeli intelligence community that is not in the public domain shows that Chinese investment in the Middle East rose by 1,700 percent between 2012 and 2017."

Larry Bird loved bank shots.

Instead of going directly to the basket, the area heavily guarded by giants, Bird would use a sweet kiss off the backboard to score. The outcome was the same — two points — but his approach was indirect yet precise.

Leverage in basketball, like much of life, is a game of angles.

From Huawei to Tel Aviv, China is a master at the bank shot.

Between 2012 and 2017, China invested $700 billion in the Middle East. Despite large-scale suffering and social disintegration, only $155 million — less than 1% — was for humanitarian aid.

China's investment in the region focuses heavily on advanced technology, of which Israel is the clear leader. It is no surprise, then, that Chinese imports of Israeli goods increased by 45% between 2017 and 2018.

The Chinese strategy in Israel is especially fraught for the United States. Last year, the United States granted Israel $40 billion (over ten years) in security assistance. Most of this aid is related to military technology, like the Patriot Missile Defense System, and requires integration into America's defense industrial base.

To stay ahead in an increasingly connected world, Israel pairs its world-class cybersecurity capabilities with advanced military technology from the United States. These technologies are often “dual-use” — they can be used for military or consumer purposes — and are less tightly regulated than, say, a surface-to-air system.

If you want to penetrate a country, penetrate its cities; to infiltrate a city, infiltrate its neighborhoods.

But if you want to score two points on a basket guarded by giants, use a bank shot.


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