Daily Telegraph: China may vote in favour of United Nations sanctions against Iran in response to Tehran's growing nuclear threat, Chinese experts predicted. The Daily Telegraph
China may vote in favour of United Nations sanctions against Iran in response to Tehran's growing nuclear threat, Chinese experts predicted.
By Malcolm Moore in Shanghai
Beijing has come under increasing pressure from Washington to take a tough line against Iran. In private talks, Barack Obama, US president, has stressed to Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, "the centrality of the Iran nuclear issue to US national security interests", according to a White House aide.
Until now, Chinese diplomats have been tight-lipped over their stance, reiterating Beijing's policy of non-interference in foreign affairs. He Yafei, the Chinese deputy foreign minister, said on Friday: "Personally, I don't like the word punishment. I think all issues can only be solved through dialogue and negotiation."
China also relies on Iran for roughly 12 per cent of its oil imports and several Chinese firms have active business interests in Tehran. An online poll in the Global Times, a state-owned Chinese newspaper, showed that 80 per cent of Chinese opposed sanctions against Iran.
If this week's meetings with Iranian negotiators break down without a diplomatic solution, China would be likely to support sanctions, predicted Shen Dingli, a professor at the Centre for American Studies at Shanghai's Fudan University. "China has voted in favour of sanctions against Iran in the past," said Mr Shen. "The situation is similar now, so it is logical to assume China will vote in favour again."
China voted in favour of UN resolution 1737 in 2006, threatening sanctions against Iran for failing to halt uranium enrichment. That resolution halted the trade in nuclear technology with Iran and froze the assets of anyone involved in "sensitive nuclear activities". China also supported resolution 1747 in 2007, which added an arms embargo, and resolution 1803 in 2008 which imposed bank checks and cargo inspections.
Jin Canrong, vice director of the School of International Studies at Renmin University of China, said China's support for sanctions would "depend on the content of the sanctions". In addition, he said Chinese diplomats would be watching closely how Russia and its Middle Eastern allies, such as Saudi Arabia, reacted. "Currently it appears that Russia may vote for the sanctions," said Mr Jin. "In that case, China may well follow suit."