On a visit to Beijing, Javad Zarif hopes China will side-step the total oil sale embargo. Experts doubt Beijing will take a greater stance against the US. Zarif asks the international community for concrete actions to keep the nuclear agreement alive.
Beijing (AsiaNews) – "Iran and China need to think together and work together about preserving a multilateral global order and avoiding a unilateral global order," said Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister Zarif, during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on Friday.
The visit by Iran’s top diplomat is taking place amid growing tensions in the Persian Gulf, with the US and its allies (Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) threatening war against Iran at a time when the latter is increasingly feeling the full weight of the US embargo on oil exports, following Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the nuclear agreement.
China, the largest importer of crude oil in the world, is also one of Iran's largest oil customers. Iran hopes to continue selling oil to China skirting the US embargo. In such a situation, Beijing could expose itself to possible US sanctions, at a time when the two superpowers are already engaged in a trade war.
For his part, Wang said that “China firmly opposes unilateral sanctions and the so-called 'long-arm jurisdiction' imposed by the United States on Iran," promising instead to uphold the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal, and safeguard the authority of the United Nations and basic norms governing international relations.
Wang also invited Iran to take part in the Belt and Road project, and engage in a cooperation to benefit both countries.
However, for a number of analysts, it will be quite difficult for China to take a decisive stand against the US, which is already putting pressure on its economy, especially in the area of advanced technologies.
"The reality is that relations with the United States are more important for China than those with Iran,” said Jean-François Dufour, expert with the DCA Chine Analyse think tank, in an interview with Lebanese French-language daily L’Orient-Le Jour.
“From Iraq to Brazil, not to mention Russia, China now has several alternatives to Iranian oil. Instead, the alternatives are more limited with regard to US technologies, essential for the new goals of China’s development."
Although China, along with Russia, Great Britain, France and Germany still want to keep the nuclear deal alive, Zarif wants concrete actions.
“So far the international community has mostly released statements rather than taking action,” Zarif said. However, "If the international community and other JCPOA member countries, and our friends in the JCPOA like China and Russia, want to keep this achievement, it is required that they make sure the Iranian people enjoy the benefits of the JCPOA with concrete actions," he added.