China has lodged an official protest with the United States over its move to impose new sanctions on Iranian and Chinese figures for allegedly supporting Iran’s ballistic missile program.
"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.
Hua added that Beijing pursued local rules and regulations and closely adhered to its responsibilities to the international community related to non-proliferation issues.
On Wednesday, the US Department of Treasury extended sanctions relief for Iran under the landmark nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries in 2015.
However, Washington imposed sanctions on two Iranian defense officials, an Iranian company and members of a China-based network for allegedly supporting Iran’s ballistic missile program.
"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 said and expressed hope that Washington "can resolve their anti-proliferation concerns through dialogue and communication, and proceed according [to] the principles of respect, equality and mutual benefits."
Tehran and Beijing have close economic and diplomatic relations. China played an instrumental role in pushing through the JCPOA under which Iran agreed to limit parts of its peaceful nuclear program in exchange for the removal of all nuclear-related sanctions imposed against the country.
The accord was negotiated under the administration of former US president, Barack Obama, but his predecessor Donald Trump has called the JCPOA “the worst deal ever.” Trump threatened to tear up the nuclear deal during his campaign and has launched a review of its terms.
Iran's Foreign Ministry on Thursday blasted the new US bans, saying it would retaliate by adding nine American individuals and corporations to its sanctions list over their human rights violations.
In a statement, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said the new US administration was seeking to undermine the “positive outcome” of the JCPOA by pressuring Tehran over “baseless accusations” in other areas than its nuclear program.