China has accused the US of “bullying” over Washington’s attempt to ratchet up pressure on Iran. The rebuke followed the decision by the Trump administration to impose new sanctions on one of China’s largest state-backed oil companies for transporting Iranian crude oil.
The fresh sanction, which comes as Hawks in the US are desperately seeking to apply “maximum pressure” on Tehran, will mean that the Chinese company Zhuhai Zhenrong and its chief executive, Youmin Li, will be barred from engaging in foreign exchange, banking or property transactions under US jurisdiction.
Denouncing the US decision a spokeswoman for China’s ministry of foreign affairs was quoted by the Financial Times saying: “We oppose the bullying and sanctions by the US of China’s enterprises and individuals based on the US’s domestic laws. We strongly condemn and firmly oppose sanctions on related Chinese companies by the US.”
She went on to say that Beijing would take steps to “safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of domestic enterprises and individuals”.
Zhuhai Zhenrong’s links to Iran is said to be one of the strongest having had relations with the Islamic Republic for 25 years. It used to be the sole importer of Iranian crude into China.
Trump’s decision to punish one of China’s major oil companies, which emerged as Iran’s biggest customer following fresh sanctions on the Islamic Republic, is likely to strengthen opposition against Washington’s aggressive stance towards Iran. Beijing is amongst the strongest critic of American’s “maximum pressure” policy which has been the major source for the escalation of serious tension in the region.
Highlighting China’s hostility to the US, Beijing received its first shipment of Iranian crude oil since the US ended waivers imposed on countries wishing to purchase petrol from Tehran.