The United States and China are actively engaged in trying to improve their relationship on several fronts. The recent working summit between the leaders of the two countries only serves to highlight the ongoing behind-the-scenes efforts.

Human rights issues, however, are being given short shrift in most of these discussions, except for an occasional lip-service statement from the United States side, and a rejection of that statement from Chinese officials.

One issue, however, deserves to be front and center in all discussions with China: the allegations that China’s national bank, of which the government owns 70 percent, helps promote the activities of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and perhaps other terrorist groups as well. The Bank of China, as it turns out, allegedly launders the money these murderous cabals use to kill and maim and destroy. And, allegations continue, it began doing so while the government was its sole owner. This is not an aberration Beijing can blame on its new partners.

It also is not something China can claim no knowledge of, because it knew. It always knew.

A case filed some months ago in New York State Supreme Court highlights the BOC’s role as money-launderer of terrorists, and makes it clear that BOC accepted the role with open eyes. The case was brought by the family of Daniel Cantor Wultz, who died as a result of a suicide bomb attack in Tel Aviv in April 2006. (His cousin is the House majority leader, Rep. Eric Cantor.) The attack was carried out by Islamic Jihad, “using material support and resources provided by defendants the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Syrian Arab Republic, and the Bank of China Ltd.,” in the words of an earlier lawsuit. That suit cleared the way for this one.

At the risk of oversimplifying how the alleged scheme works, Syria and Iran funnel money into dummy companies in the Persian Gulf. The “companies,” in turn, transfer the funds to a Bank of China branch in New York City, which then moves the money to a BOC branch in China itself. There, Arab nationals living and doing business in China with known ties to a Gaza-based terrorist clan withdraw the funds and use them to purchase goods, which they ship to the Gaza Strip. In Gaza, the goods are sold and the money placed into Hamas and Islamic Jihad coffers.

This is one of the reasons Israel included so-called “humanitarian” items in its blockade of Gaza. Even a chocolate bar can be used to fund a suicide bomber.

Both Israel and the United States warned the Bank of China as early as 2005 – a year before Wultz was murdered – that it was being used in this way, but to this day the BOC denies any knowledge of it.

The United States has men and women on the front lines in the war against terrorism. Before it makes any business deals with China, it has to protect its troops. That means it has to insist that there can be no deals with China until Beijing acknowledges the truth and pledges never again to enable terrorists by laundering their money.