U.S. kills Iranian general . . .
Qasem Soleimani, one of Iran’s most powerful men and head of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, a division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Iraq on Friday. Tehran has vowed to avenge the death of the general and held a funeral on Monday, with Iranian state television claiming millions of people attended the ceremony. Now that “World War III” is trending on social media, many wonder how the world’s second power, China, will react.
China’s response to the Soleimani killing . . .
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson initially released a lukewarm statement Saturday that the “U.S.’s risky military behaviour in recent days goes against the basic norms of international relations” and highlighted China’s concerns about the U.S./Iran standoff. But later that day, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced he had held a conference call with his Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Zarif, who said he “hopes China can play an important role in preventing escalation of regional tensions.” Wang strongly criticized America’s Middle East strategy and emphasized that “military means” and “maximum pressure” will not lead to a peaceful resolution.
China’s interests in Iran . . .
The China-Iran relationship has drawn a lot of attention in recent years with both countries seemingly cosying up to one another – and with more than C$159 billion in Chinese investment flowing to Iran’s oil and gas sector since 2013. As it seeks to extend its Belt and Road Initiative through the region, a stable Middle East has never been more important for China, which conducted four days of naval exercises with Iran and Russia in late December. Some think that the naval exercises are an indication that China, especially as its own relations with the U.S. have deteriorated, could take a more active role in the region to protect its interests, while others believe that China has no appetite for getting directly involved in an unpredictable conflict.
- Atlantic Council: China’s response to the Soleimani killing
- Foreign Policy: China’s Great Game in Iran
- South China Morning Post: China promises ‘relentless efforts’ to save Iran nuclear deal