China is voicing strong opposition to U.S. sanctions against Iran. Authorities in Beijing say Chinese interaction with the Middle Eastern country does not violate United Nations resolutions and therefore should not be affected by the latest sanctions.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei repeated China's position that, on Iran, it prefers dialogue to sanctions. Hong specifically said China opposes one country placing its domestic law above international law and imposing unilateral sanctions on other countries.
He was referring to a days-old American law that targets Iran's oil industry. The legislation calls for sanctions against financial institutions that deal with Iran's central bank, which is its main clearinghouse for oil exports. The European Union also is expected to impose new sanctions against Iran within the next few weeks.
Western nations have imposed increasingly tight sanctions against Iran because of its nuclear program, which they believe is aimed at building an nuclear weapon. Tehran maintains its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes.
Iran is one of the world's largest producers of crude oil and China is its top customer. The Chinese spokesman defended Sino-Iranian oil and trade ties as normal and above-board.
He says China and Iran have “normal and transparent energy and economic cooperation.” He contends that these activities do not violate United Nations Security Council resolutions, nor harm the interests of other countries and so should not be affected.
As one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, the Chinese government has not exercised its right to veto any resolutions calling for sanctions against Iran. But at the same time, China has criticized the United States and European Union for imposing their own, separate sanctions.