Beijing, Washington avoid sharp confrontation on Iran

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/11/6 17:33:39

The US reimposed its oil and banking sanctions on Iran on Monday. Washington exempted eight countries, allowing them to continue buying Iranian oil. China, India, Japan and South Korea are among the eight countries, while Russia and major EU countries are not.

The US sanctions on Iran are seen as the largest in history. Washington even demands that other countries also break off oil and banking exchanges with Iran, or the US will impose sanctions on the third party which defies Washington.

This is bullying. The Iran nuclear deal was signed by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC), Germany and Iran, and was put on record in the UNSC. Iran has been verified to have carried out the deal. The US unilaterally pulled out of the deal and imposed sanctions on other countries' economic activities under the framework of the agreement. The US is apparently violating international law. Other countries are not under any obligation to support the US sanctions against Iran.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson described the China-Iran economic cooperation as normal cooperation. When it was officially announced that China was exempted, we believe that Beijing won't thank Washington for that.

But it helps reduce China's losses as India, Japan and South Korea are also exempted. China is the biggest buyer of Iranian oil and Beijing will stand against Washington if China were not exempted. That's because different countries have different crude oil requirements. Some of China's refineries are designed to refine Iranian crude, which can't be abruptly changed. Iranian oil accounts for 7 percent of China's crude oil imports, and it's impossible to totally replace it in a short time.

The EU has the largest overall interests in Iran and was the most active in promoting the Iran nuclear deal. The EU strongly opposes US sanctions on Iran. The EU also encourages EU companies to continue doing business with Iran, and even set up a special payments system to counter the US sanctions. Russia also reacted strongly. If China also has serious disputes with the US on Iran, it's Washington that will be isolated.

Some Western media reported that China has reduced part of its oil imports from Iran, after which the US included China with India, Japan and South Korea. All in all, China and the US avoided serious disputes on the Iran issue.

China is with most countries on the Iran nuclear issue. China protects its right to continue its oil trade with Iran, and, besides trade, China has avoided confronting the US. We believe that this is appropriate.

China is now bearing maximum trade pressure from the US. US tariffs on Chinese goods are more than the sum of those on other countries. China should avoid confronting more pressure. Although Beijing has a clear position, it should act according to its capability.

Iran is China's partner, and the US is an important destiny of China's opening-up. Except for Italy and Greece, two Southern European countries, the others on the US exemption list are Asian countries and regions. China's interests and circumstances are similar to the latter, and China's way of approaching the issue is comparable to theirs.

International affairs are complicated. As an independent force in the world, China needs to formulate its policies based on the facts. China doesn't want to confront any party and would like to play an active role in resolving disputes, protecting the truth and carrying forward international justice. In the meantime, China's interests should be respected.

The deterioration of the Iranian situation has just begun. We hope that Washington will restrain its rash acts. These sanctions against Iran face many challenges as they lack legal basis and hurt too many countries. Washington will suffer if it underestimates the challenges.

Posted in: OBSERVER

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