United States sanctions on alleged Iranian and Chinese parties involved with Iran's ballistic missile program drew a sharp rebuke from Beijing on Thursday, as China's Foreign Ministry registered its official protest with Washington.
China has long expressed its dissatisfaction with the U.S.' use of the sanctions weapon, which frequently affects Chinese individuals and companies allegedly linked to weapons or nuclear development in Iran or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"The Chinese side is always opposed to unilateral sanctions, to the frequent implementation of unilateral sanctions, especially when it hurts interests of third parties," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a news briefing on Thursday, adding that Beijing's adherence to non-proliferation efforts was irreproachable and conformed to relevant local rules and regulations.
The U.S. sanctioned two Iranian defense officials, an Iranian company and members of a China-based network for supporting Iran's ballistic missile program, the U.S. Treasury said in a statement Wednesday.
The move came despite U.S. President Donald Trump's extension of sanctions relief for Iran under the 2015 nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — JCPOA — reached between Iran and the P5+1 group. The former reality television personality has repeatedly called the agreement “the worst deal ever negotiated.”
"China is opposed to the blind use of unilateral sanctions particularly when it damages the interests of third parties. I think the sanctions are unhelpful in enhancing mutual trust and unhelpful for international efforts on this issue," Hua said.
"China has lodged representations with the United States," the spokeswoman added, urging Washington to "resolve their anti-proliferation concerns through dialogue and communication, and proceed according (to) the principles of respect, equality and mutual benefits."
China has close economic and diplomatic ties with Tehran, but was also instrumental in pushing through a landmark 2015 deal to curb Iran's nuclear program.
Prior to the latest round of sanctions, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif said the U.S. opponents of the JCPOA “try to cause tumultuous atmosphere and the aim behind escalation of sanctions is just to raise hue and cry.” On Thursday, Iran blasted the new bans and said it would retaliate by adding nine U.S. individuals and corporations to its own sanctions list over human rights violations within the United States.