December 27, 2004

DEBKAfile’s

Chinese deputy prime minister, State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan, flew in to Israel secretly Saturday night, December 25. His mission: to recover an unspecified number of Israel-built Harpy unmanned aerial attack vehicles sent back for overhaul or upgrade and held back by Israel at Washington’s insistence. US officials claim Israeli never asked permission or notified the administration about the Chinese sale. However, since no American-developed technology is present in the Harpy, Israel was under no compulsion to check with Washington on the sale. The transaction only came to light in Washington when the UAVs were returned to Israel for overhaul or upgrading – and even then the information came not from Israel but US intelligence. In actual fact, Washington was informed by Taiwan, which recently also purchased Harpy drones from Israel.

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