While Iran is seeking support in South America, the US is trying to convince the world’s second largest economy, China, to back its sanctions aimed at Iran’s Central Bank and oil industry, though it seems unlikely Beijing will be swayed.
US Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner met with the Chinese President’s Special Representative and Vice Premier Wang Qishan in Beijing on Tuesday.
Wang underlined the importance of mutual cooperation and ensuring global economic recovery. He said the US and China had a lot of issues to talk about in the areas of economy, finance, trade and investment
Geithner stressed that stable economic development conforms to the interests of the two countries.
“We are always looking for ways to expand trade and investment with China to strengthen our economic ties,” he told his Chinese counterpart.
He is later scheduled to meet with Premier Wen Jiabao, Vice President Xi Jinping and Vice Premier Li Keqiang.
China is the world’s biggest energy consumer and buys almost one-third of Iran’s oil exports. And it has rejected the US sanctions as a tool against Tehran’s nuclear program.
China’s deputy foreign minister Cui Tiankai said on Monday that China’s oil imports “have nothing to do with the nuclear issue.”
“We should not mix issues of different natures, and China’s legitimate concerns and demands should be respected,” he said.
After talks in Beijing, Geithner is expected to visit Japan, another major consumer of Iranian oil.
Professor Michael Klare from Hampshire College told RT that China will listen politely but will not follow US advice and will not turn against Iran.
“I don’t think that the Chinese are inclined at this moment to take orders from Washington especially since President Obama last week announced a new defense policy that is implicitly anti-Chinese.”
Klare expressed doubts that China sees Iran’s nuclear ambitions as a threat because in his view the few nuclear weapons Iran might conceivably have are in fact “an insurance policy” against possible US attacks. “I don’t think Iran would ever use them in an offensive manner against anybody else.”
The Chinese are more worried that instability in the Persian Gulf would create an economic crisis and eventually harm their economy, he explained.
Klare believes that the US will be trying to convince China that it may fall victim of the actions of Iran’s leadership, such as its closing of Strait of Hormuz, for example. “The US will try very hard to portray this as defense of the freedom of the seas, not as an attack on Iran.”