How China should respond to US’ Iranian oil request

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/4/23 17:13:40

The White House issued a statement Monday saying that the US will not extend the exemption period for countries buying oil from Iran, and the early May deadline stands. 

US media reported this means that the US will impose sanctions on countries that continue to purchase oil from Iran after May 2.

After the US sanctions on Iran took effect in November last year, it agreed to let eight countries and regions continue to import Iranian oil for six months. 

Among them, Italy, Greece and Taiwan have stopped buying Iranian oil. The five Asian countries that are still importing large amounts of oil from Iran are China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey.

If these countries continue to buy Iranian oil, they risk facing US sanctions. So it's a tough choice.

This act of the US is a typical manifestation of unilateralism and hegemony. Washington not only seeks to suppress Iran, but also makes other countries and regions suffer. 

Many countries are unlikely to comply with the US. Sources in India say New Delhi is already asking the US to extend the "exemption period" for partner countries. Iran's oil exports have fallen sharply since last year, but hoping they will drop to zero is unrealistic.  

China is the biggest buyer of Iranian oil. How Beijing deals with the US demand will attract more attention, given tense China-US relations since last year. 

We think China should clarify its interests and principles surrounding the purchase of oil from the Middle East nation and strive to minimize the loss to China's national interests. 

China needs to safeguard the Iran nuclear agreement with Britain, France, Germany and Russia, and also needs to maintain friendly and cooperative relations with Iran.

China should oppose the hegemonic approach of the US, but it can't take the lead in confronting the US on issues involving Iran. 

Beijing needs to coordinate with other major powers to respond to US sanctions against Iran.

The operational safety of Chinese enterprises should be given priority and they have the right to continue to cooperate with Iran or withdraw, keeping in mind the situation on the ground.

One of the most criticized actions in Washington has been the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the re-imposition of sanctions. In doing so, the US has hit Germany and other European countries hard. Several European powers generally support their companies' continuing presence in Iran, but those firms are actually scaling down their operations in Iran because of concerns over US sanctions. The EU proposal for an alternative payment system in response to US financial sanctions has done little to reassure European companies.

China does not want to have a showdown with the US over Iran, nor can Beijing just let Washington do what it wants.

There is a need to strengthen coordination among countries. If the issue can be dragged, then let it drag. Otherwise, the issue can be modified. If it cannot be modified, let it be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

On the issue of boycotting US sanctions against Iraq, we cannot disregard principles or interests. This is a time to test wisdom.

This is an editorial of the Global Times Tuesday.


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