LONDON (Jan. 11)
High level direct contacts between Israel and China are believed to have taken place, confirming the latest widespread reports of a softening in the attitude of the People’s Republic of China towards the Jewish State. One of these meetings, still unconfirmed, may have been between Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman and Huang Hua, China’s Foreign Minister and former Ambassador to the United Nations.
It is believed here that the two men met briefly in top secret near Zurich last summer. Huang stopped over there after a trip to Zaire in Central Africa, Weizman landed at Zurich after a mysterious flight to London where he had met Lord Rothschild in connection with Israel’s Defense Ministry business.
Earlier, Huang had met Chaim Herzog then Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, in New York. That meeting, and the relaxed atmosphere at it, reflected China’s positive reaction to the breakthrough in Israeli-Egyptian relations, following President Anwar Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem. It coincided too with a tour by Huang of other Mediterranean countries, including Iran, Turkey and Greece.
Any further Chinese move towards Israel would probably not take place until after Israel has signed a peace treaty with Egypt. But when it happens it will infuriate the Soviet Union, which opposes Sadat’s peace policy and regards both China and Israel as its arch-enemies.
An Israeli-Chinese rapprochement could well be used by Moscow as a pretext for intensifying its anti-Jewish policies both at home and abroad. It would be on historical irony, however, if this discouraged Israel from seeking Chinese friendship. A quarter of a century ago, Israel failed to respond to Chinese overtures because it did not want to antagonize the United States, particularly the then Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles.