China protests over US sanctions on Chinese firms ‘linked to Iran’
Foreign Ministry says measures will have adverse impact on Chinese companies and will not help resolve problems with Tehran
China has formally complained to the authorities in Washington over newly-imposed US sanctions against Iran which it says will severely affect Chinese businesses.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a daily press briefing on Monday that China opposes “unilateral sanctions” and that the move by Washington had adversely affected the interests of other parties.
“The sanctions will not help in enhancing trust among the different parties involved and will not help in resolving international problems,” he said.
The US imposed sanctions against 25 groups and people on Friday after Iran carried out a ballistic missile test.
The sanctions bar access to the US financial system or dealings with American companies. Foreign companies or people dealing with them also face blacklisting by the US authorities.
The new sanctions are the first of Trump’s presidency and target what US officials say is Iran’s weapons procurement network in Lebanon and China.
The sanctions imposed include two Chinese companies and three Chinese people.
Only one was explicitly named by the US Treasury Department as a Chinese citizen - identified as Qin Xianhua.
Another official named in the list, Yue Yaodong, an executive at Cosailing Business Trading Co in Qingdao, told the South China Morning Post that his firm had been forced to close as his accounts at the Agricultural Bank of China had been closed.
Yue said his company had only provided quotations to Iranian customers for “daily use items” and machinery parts through emails more than three years ago.
He said he sent product samples to Iranian customers, but no deals were agreed or completed after they were dispatched. He did not elaborate on what the samples were.
The company’s website says it is involved in trading a wide range of products from furnaces to treadmills and false eyelashes.
“I don’t know what my company has done that would lead to US sanctions,” Yue said.
“I have no idea why the Agricultural Bank of China would freeze my accounts. I have not been engaged in trade with Iranian customers for years.
“I don’t have a way out but to close the company. I don’t think it’s useful to raise a complaint,” he said.
The other Chinese company on the list is the Ningbo New Century Import and Export Co, based in the eastern port city of Ningbo. One of its websites features adverts for the import and export of fire hydrants and inner tubes for motorcycles.
An export manager at Ningbo New Century, who did not give his full name, told the Reuters news agency it carried out “normal” exports to Iran, but did not elaborate.
“There’s nothing we can do. Let them put us on the sanctions list,” he said, declining to comment further comment.
The state-run Xinhua news agency said in a commentary on Sunday that new sanctions would have a limited effect on Iran, but opened a new chapter in the stand-off between Washington and Tehran.
“Now Trump has taken office, uncertainly in the US-Iran relationship has risen and this may become a ticking time bomb for peace and stability in the Middle East,” the commentary said.
China has previously been angered by what it calls unilateral sanctions taken against Chinese firms by the United States and others in relation against Iran or North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
China has close economic and diplomatic ties with Tehran, but was also instrumental in pushing through a landmark 2015 deal to curb the nation’s nuclear programme.
Additional reporting by Reuters