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International relations

Israel's blossoming China ties become thorny issue with US

Port and other infrastructure deals draw scrutiny amid superpower rivalry

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, has cultivated close relations with U.S. President Donald Trump, but his country's ties with Xi Jinping's China are creating complications. (Source photos by Reuters)

TOKYO -- Israel is at the center of an escalating tug of war between the U.S., its longtime ally, and China, an investor it has courted for years.

This week, a company backed by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing's CK Hutchison Holdings conglomerate lost a bid to build one of the world's largest water desalination plants in Israel. Government officials told local media that the domestic winner had a better pitch. But the decision came less than two weeks after a whirlwind visit by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who reportedly delivered a warning against Chinese investment.

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