Why China may not come to Iran’s rescue

Al-Monitor | With the United States having withdrawn from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on May 8, a new round of diplomatic efforts has begun to save the deal. To this end, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has recently toured China, Russia and Belgium to meet with the remaining signatories to the accord.

As Iran tries to gain assurances from China that it will remain in the deal, the US Department of Commerce has banned American firms from selling parts to ZTE, one of China’s largest IT companies, for seven years and fined the company $1.1 billion for violating sanctions against Iran and North Korea. The need to have American parts for the company’s production line has brought it to near bankruptcy. Now, US President Donald Trump is suddenly moving to reach a solution to ZTE’s fate. The parallel timing of these events highlights the complicated position Iran is faced with to win China’s support.

Beijing is Tehran’s first trade partner; in addition to being the biggest buyer of Iranian oil, it is a key political partner. In 2017, the volume of trade between the two countries was estimated at $37.18 billion, 13% higher than the year before.

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