“Countries that pay for the rockets hitting Israel should be the recipients of Israel’s response,” writes Dan Hogan, a reader commenting on Bret Stephens’s latest column. Of course, Hogan is referring to Iran. But should we stop with the Islamic Republic?
Iran purchased the 122mm rockets that hit Israel. We know this because Tehran’s version of the same 122mm weapon does not have sufficient range to hit the Israeli areas that came under bombardment last month. And where did the mullahs buy these longer-range instruments of destruction? That would be the People’s Republic of China.
Beijing always says it is a responsible arms manufacturer and cannot control where its weapons are used. Is that so? If you wanted to give the Chinese the benefit of every doubt–you shouldn’t, but that’s another story–you could argue they could not have known that Pakistani terrorists would choose to use China’s specialized blue grenades, manufactured by state-owned Norinco, in the November attacks in Mumbai.
But you can’t make the same argument about the rockets manufactured by China’s state-owned Sichuan Aerospace Industry Corp. And why not? The Chinese have been deeply involved in Iran’s use of the weapons it has purchased from them. They have, for instance, been supplying the Iranians with small arms and the components for roadside bombs and have worked with Tehran so that these items could be put into the hands of insurgents in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan without interdiction. In view of the long and close relationships with its Iranian customers on even purchases of small items, it is inconceivable Beijing did not know how its big rockets would be used. Chinese officials might not have known that Hamas would fire one off at a school in Beersheba on December 31, but they had more than just an inkling they would be directed at citizens in southern Israel.
Washington calls China a “responsible stakeholder” in the international community. It’s not. It is a state sponsor of terrorism even though it is not on the State Department’s terrorism-sponsorship list. Beijing is complicit in Gaza. The White House needs to say this out loud because its behind-the-scenes diplomacy with the Chinese is not working: China is continuing to supply Hamas. And the United States is looking the other way.
So, Mr. Hogan, thanks for raising a critical issue. Beijing must answer for its actions–and Washington needs to explain its silence.