Why should China shoot itself in the foot to accommodate hostile American chauvinists?
Chinese leaders dealt a blow to US plans to strangulate Iranian oil exports just hours before Washington’s Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner touched down in Beijing.
It could hardly be a more pointed snub to Washington’s designs to press-gang a global lynch mob into laying into the Iranian economy.
Top of the agenda for Geithner’s visit beginning Tuesday is to push China’s leaders into cutting off crude oil imports from Iran – thus hoping to cripple the Iranian economy.
Already the US government seems to have succeeded in bouncing the European Union and other Asian importers of Iranian oil – Japan and South Korea – into following Washington’s latest sanctions against Iran’s Central Bank, thereby hitting the state-controlled oil industry.
For the record, the US orchestration of sanctions is based on the tiresome and spurious allegations that “Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon” – which in reality reads “Washington needs a pretext to mount regime change in Tehran to one that is subservient to its foreign policy and future energy requirements”.
But the Chinese are having none of it. China’s astute leaders know full well that the real US agenda has nothing to do with alleged nuclear weapons.
China’s senior foreign diplomat Chen Xiaodong told China Daily: “We are against imposing any unilateral economic or oil sanctions on Iran” – precisely what Geithner is demanding his hosts in Beijing to do.
Here’s a few factors that may be forming China’s view on the matter.
First, Iran’s nuclear programme is in compliance with its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran’s development of nuclear capability for the enrichment of uranium is well within technical limits for civilian energy and medical purposes, which Iran has consistently claimed is what its legitimate nuclear programme is all about. China has said that it supports Iran’s civilian nuclear endeavours because… well because they are entirely reasonable and legitimate.
Second, China is heavily dependent on Iranian crude oil. Some 22 per cent of its total crude oil imports come from Iran. Do you really think the second largest economy in the world is going to risk its growth plans to accommodate US chauvinism?
Third, the Chinese government probably knows full well that the US-led sanctions against Iran are illegal under international law. Such illegality may fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time. In other words, the Chinese – famed for their long view of history – know that such illegal bullying is not sustainable and will end in futility.
Fourth, venal US foreign policy is coming back to bite itself in its own rear-end. Washington’s war-making in Libya, East Africa, the Persian Gulf and Central Asia is driven in large measure to wrest US hegemony from the perceived competitive threat of China. Beijing is believed to have already lost much of its investments in Libya after the US/NATO blitzkrieg on the North African country. Why should China facilitate the US vandal over Iran, especially when China has invested heavily in the Islamic Republic for future oil and gas projects, in particular the development of the South Pars Field – the biggest known reserve of natural gas on the planet.
Fifth, the arrogant delusions of the US knows no bounds. Only two months ago, US President Barack Obama went on a tour of Asia-Pacific rounding on China as the new US military target. And for the past year, China has been berated and vilified by Washington as a “currency manipulator”.
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has even accused China of “stealing from us” – referring to the relative trade balances. It is a bit rich, to say the least, that the bankrupt and terminally indebted US should lash out at China when the latter is propping up the US economy by buying its worthless Treasury bonds.
Latest figures show that the total accumulated American debt is at $16 trillion; while its trade deficit is at $1.4 trillion. China’s trade surplus is $0.16 trillion, that is, about 10 per cent of the US deficit. In other words, the roots of the US economic collapse are to do with its chronic relation to the entire world, not specifically China. Yet Chinese leaders have had to endure endless, arrogant and preposterous scape-goating from US bigots. “Ah so, and now you want us to shoot ourselves economically and strategically in the foot with regard to our ally Iran?”
The US may have the most fearsome military machine on the planet. But to be honest that’s about it. In every other way, it is a former heavyweight who is pathetically getting pie-eyed at the Last Chance Saloon. And China knows it. How? Because it’s picking up the American tab… for now.
Finian Cunningham is Global Research’s Middle East and East Africa correspondent