EghtesadOnline: China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on the United States to "act with caution" regarding its Iran policies to avoid escalating tensions that could lead to an unintended serious conflict between the two countries.
He made the request in a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday while also talking about China's trade dispute with Washington, Reuters reported.
Tensions between Iran and the US mounted after US President Donald Trump abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed harsh sanctions on Tehran last year.
The US administration has been ratcheting up economic and military pressure in recent months, raising concerns over a potential war between the two arch-foes, according to Financial Tribune.
It revoked the oil import exemptions it granted several countries, including China, as well as part of the waivers for international cooperation with Iran on civilian nuclear projects.
In military terms, Trump designated Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps a terrorist group and deployed more military forces to the Middle East, including an aircraft carrier, B-52 bombers and Patriot missiles.
Iran, in response, blacklisted as a terrorist group the US Central Command (CENTCOM), which is responsible for American military operations in the Middle East.
In early May, Tehran also stopped complying with two of its obligations under the nuclear deal and said it would further reduce its commitment if other parties fail to preserve its oil and banking interests in 60 days.
In a meeting with Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif on Friday, Wang offered strong support to Iran, stressing that China opposes unilateral US sanctions and supports Tehran’s efforts to safeguard its interests.
Zarif was in Beijing as part of his Asian tour to spotlight the international community's responsibility to shore up the landmark deal.
Wang noted that given the important and rapidly-evolving situation, the two needed to strengthen communications and coordination.
“China resolutely opposes the US implementation of unilateral sanctions and so-called ‘long arm jurisdiction’, understands the current situation and concerns of the Iranian side and supports the Iranian side to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests,” China’s Foreign Ministry cited Wang as saying.
He added that China appreciates Iran’s full implementation of the nuclear deal and intention to stick to it.
“The dispute surrounding the Iranian nuclear agreement is essentially a contest between multilateralism and unilateralism,” he said.
China’s Foreign Ministry also cited Zarif as saying that Iran has no intention to withdraw from the nuclear agreement and opposes war.
Beijing and Tehran have long had close relations, especially in the energy sector. China is Iran’s largest crude oil customer, with total imports last year of about 585,400 barrels a day, roughly 6% of China’s total oil imports, according to customs data.
When Trump eliminated its exemption on the import of Iranian crude, China lodged representations with the US, warning of instability in the region and in the oil market.
“The decision from the US will contribute to volatility in the Middle East and in the international energy market. We urge the United States to adopt a responsible attitude and play a constructive role, not the opposite,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang said in late April.