The Chinese Embassy in Israel on Friday responded to criticism voiced by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his visit to Israel this week, calling his remarks that China had concealed information about the outbreak of the coronavirus from the world "absurd."
The embassy statement noted noted that "scientists still haven’t identified the origin of COVID-19," and claimed that China never concealed the outbreak of the disease in the country. It also added that the United States is currently the epicenter of the pandemic.
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The embassy also referred to Pompeo's warning to Israel regarding Chinese investments in the country. During his visit on Wednesday, Pomeo said that such investements could pose a security risk, particularly in the area of infrastructure.
The statement went on to ask how Israel will come to "depend on China" given the "limited" level of Chinese investment in the country.
"By the end of 2018, China’s investment in Israel only accounts for 0.4 percent of China’s investment across the world and 3 percent of the foreign investment flown into Israel."
The statement concluded by saying: "We trust that the Jewish friends are not only able to defeat the coronavirus but also the 'political virus,' and choose the course of action that best serves its interests."
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Embassy officials emphasized that China-Israel cooperation is mutually profitable and benificial.
Under President Donald Trump, the United States has put pressure on Israel, along with many of its allies, to limit Chinese investement in the country as part of his trade war with the nation.
In October 2019, Israel's security cabinet decided to establish a mechanism to monitor Chinese investments, following pressure from the United States.
In February, before the coronavirus had spread to Israel, the deputy chief of the Chinese Embassy in Israel, Dai Yuming, said that "China opened its doors to the Jewish people during dark times and we didn't close it. I hope that Israel won't close the door to the Chinese."
The statement came after Israel's Foreign Ministry recommended against travel to China and urged all residents of Israel in China to leave after suspending all direct flights to the country.