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Politics & Law

US using Iran to punish China for supporting Venezuela

Tugboats dock the oil tanker “Daniel” carrying crude oil imported from Iran at the Port of Zhoushan in Zhoushan city, east China’s Zhejiang province, 8 March 2018. (Photo from Imaginechina | AP Images, captured from CNBC)

The Trump administration announced on April 22 that “buyers of Iranian oil must stop purchases by May 1 or face sanctions …” reported by CNBC on April 23.

“The move, which took many market participants by surprise, ends six months of waivers which had allowed Iran’s eight biggest buyers of crude to continue to import limited volumes …”

Surprise? Definitely not.

Rewind to April 8, Newsweek had put the spotlight on the joint efforts of Iran and China in Venezuela:

“… Iran has followed Russia’s lead in shoring up ties with Venezuela at a time when the United States sought to oust the embattled Latin American country’s socialist government, but China’s presence there may be the Pentagon’s gravest concern. Amid these developments, however, U.S. Southern Command chief Navy Admiral Craig Faller said he was more concerned about another actor opposing regime change efforts in Venezuela — China.

“…‘I think the biggest threat to democracy and the way of life around the world is the trend that we see in China,’ Faller told Foreign Policy on Monday, later adding that ‘there is no other actor in Latin America, with the possible exception of the Cubans, who as much controls the fate of Nicolás Maduro and his henchman as China does.’ …”

Next day, Newsweek further reported that:

“ … Responding to Tuesday’s Newsweek article discussing the recent arrival of Russian, Chinese and Iranian planes intended to support Maduro and his government, Bolton told radio host Hugh Hewitt that ‘President Trump is determined not to see Venezuela fall under the sway of foreign powers.’ … ‘If the Monroe Doctrine fails, if China and Russia, along with Cuba, establish domination over Venezuela, I think American strategic interests will be harmed,’ Bolton said …”

Then, according to an April 12 article ‘Steve Bannon declares War on China’ published by The American Conservative, “… former White House strategist Steve Bannon and Frank Gaffney (head of the Center for Security Policy) … say the world has changed … Xi and his team in Beijing are authoritarians with Alexandrian ambition … On the issue of China, the mission becomes more urgent …”

In short, Washington has concluded that, as a significant step to confront China, Beijing must be seriously deterred to keep on supporting Maduro in Venezuela now, or otherwise the US is in great danger.

However, Beijing can find a way out of it. For example, since Russia has been sanctioned for various reasons, Moscow could work as a middle man to buy Iran’s oil and then sell to China as Russia’s oil. Washington is certainly aware of this trick. Therefore, the key point is not about Iran’s oil, but Venezuela.

The first climax of the show is: in case Washington really threatens to ban sale of chips to China for any reason they like, whether Beijing would retreat from the US backyard.

The opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of China Daily Mail.

About keith K C Hui

Keith K C Hui is a Chinese University of Hong Kong graduate major in Government and Public Administration and the author of "Helmsman Ruler: China's Pragmatic Version of Plato's Ideal Political Succession System In The Republic" (2013).

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