JERUSALEM (Mar. 25)
A senior official of the Chinese Communist Party visiting here has offered an equivocal denial of allegations that Israel transferred U.S. Patriot anti-missile technology to his country.
Lee Cheng Veng, head of a delegation invited to Israel by Mapam and the Israel Communist Party, said Wednesday that “to the best of his knowledge” there was no such transfer.
He hastened to add, however, that since he was not an expert on the subject he could not elaborate.
The visit coincides with the presence in Israel of a 15-person team of U.S. Army experts investigating recent charges that Israel sold China a Patriot anti-missile battery or provided it with the technology without U.S. authorization.
While Israel is cooperating with the investigators, the issue has further aggravated its badly strained relations with Washington.
The Chinese Communists met with the Palestinian negotiating team that participated in the recent bilateral talks with Israel in Washington, as well as with Palestinian leftists.
They expressed support for the Palestinian cause and said China’s establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel in January was aimed at advancing the peace process.
A five-member agricultural delegation from China was due here Thursday on a study mission. Their visit is the result of an initiative undertaken by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture.
Aryeh Cooperstock, head of JDC’s International Development Program, visited the Chinese province of Hebei last year. The farmers there expressed interest in Israeli agricultural know-how and international funding to develop the region.
The Chinese already have planted Israeli hybrid cotton seeds, which are hardier than other types of cotton and mature in a shorter time. Farmers therefore can reap two harvests from the same plot of land.