The US Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, has met leaders in Beijing as part of a trip to China and Japan in an attempt to gather support for sanctions on Iranian oil in a bid to halt Tehran’s nuclear programme.
11% of China’s oil is imported from Iran. The US administration hopes to significantly curtail oil revenues received in Tehran by encouraging major importers, such as China, to import their oil from elsewhere.
Although sanctions on Iranian oil are supported by the combined weight of the United States and Europe, to many onlookers it remains unlikely that the Chinese government will support such actions.
China takes a different view to the West on the Iranian nuclear programme; the Chinese deputy foreign minister, Cui Tiankai, recently stated that “We should not mix issues with different natures, and China’s legitimate concerns and demands should be respected.”
Despite this however, Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao, is scheduled to make a trip to the major energy exporters of the Middle East, including: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. This could well be a sign that China is looking around for alternative energy suppliers and that China’s desire to import oil from Iran is beginning to wane in the light of the international condemnation of Tehran’s nuclear programme.
Another major importer of Iranian oil is Japan, which relies on the supply to meet approximately 9% of its energy needs. Mr Geithner is planned to visit Japan later this week.
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