China warns US against opening Mideast 'Pandora's box'

China warns US against opening Mideast 'Pandora's box'

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Boc
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Bocharov Ruchei residence in Sochi, Russia on May 13, 2019. (File photo: Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via Reuters)

BEIJING: China on Tuesday (Jun 18) warned against opening a "Pandora's box" in the Middle East after the United States announced the deployment of 1,000 additional troops to the region amid escalating tensions with Iran.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi also urged Tehran to not abandon the nuclear agreement "so easily" after Iran said it would exceed its uranium stockpile limit if world powers fail to fulfil their commitments under the agreement in 10 days.

Fears of a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since last Thursday when two tankers were attacked. The United States has blamed Iran, more than a year after President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran has denied having any role in the attacks.

READ: US releases new photos it says incriminate Iran in tanker attacks

The Chinese government's top diplomat, Wang told reporters at a briefing that China was "of course, very concerned" about the situation in the Gulf, and called on all sides to ease tension and not head towards a clash.

"We call on all sides to remain rational and exercise restraint, and not take any escalatory actions that irritate regional tensions, and not open a Pandora's box," Wang said.

"In particular, the US side should alter its extreme pressure methods. Any unilateral behaviour has no basis in international law," Wang said, warning that it could create "an even greater crisis".

Wang also said that the Iran nuclear deal was the only feasible way to resolve its nuclear issue.

"We hope that Iran is cautious with its decision-making and not lightly abandon this agreement," he said.

READ: US to send 1,000 additional troops to Middle East

Iran has threatened to go even further in scaling down nuclear commitments by July 8 unless remaining partners to the deal - Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia - help it circumvent US sanctions and especially enable it to sell its oil.

"China's determination to safeguard the comprehensive agreement has not changed," Wang said.

"We are willing to work with all parties to continue to make efforts for the full and effective implementation of the agreement."

China and Iran have close energy ties, and China has been angered by US threats against countries and companies that violate US sanctions by importing Iranian oil.

China has had to walk a fine line as it has also been cultivating relations with Iran's regional rival, Saudi Arabia, which is also the Asian giant's top oil supplier.

Source: Reuters/AFP/hm