After the United States killed Iranian military leader Soleimani, the response from China, another key player in the Middle East, has been quite muted. The Chinese regime called for “dialogue, not escalation.” But an expert says that Chinas footprint in the Middle East is not as innocent as its sentiment.
China expert and former Defense Department staff Joseph Bosco said that China wants to use Iran to distract President Trump from focusing on his Indo-Pacific strategies and tackling the threat from the Chinese regime.
He said that Chinas support might be a big factor in Irans recent provocations.
“The more crisis the United States has to deal with elsewhere in the world, the better it is for Chinas strategic interest as they see them,” the former China Country Director of the Office of the Secretary of Defense told NTD.
The Chinese regime has close trade and diplomatic ties with Iran. It has also been found undermining United States sanctions on Iran.
Days before Soleimanis killing, China, Russia, and Iran hosted a joint military exercise. Its the first time Iran has joined a military exercise of this scale since its 1979 Islamic Revolution.
On Dec. 31, 2019, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Beijing to meet with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi for the fourth time within a year.
This September, the United States imposed sanctions on several Chinese entities and individuals for transferring oil from Iran.
In 2018, the United States charged the CFO of Chinas tech giant Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, for allegedly trading with Iran.
Irans defense imports come mainly from Russia and China.
“They (the Chinese regime) want to present the image of being a responsible stakeholder, [an] international player that tones down conflicts rather than stirring them up,” Bosco said, “But behind the scenes, they really are stirring up trouble in a lot of places.”
“They want to have political influence there,” said State Secretary Mike Pompeo of Chinas footprint in the Middle East.
“We brook no ill towards them if theyre trying to have economic engagement. We want the Chinese economy to be successful,” Pompeo said during his speech on Monday at Stanford University, “But Ive been pretty clear about the risks that come when theres not a straight-up transparent deal with the Chinese.”