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China Urges Iran to Restrain Houthi Attacks on Ships in the Red Sea

Chinese authorities have reportedly urged their Iranian counterparts to help prevent attacks on ships in the Red Sea by the Houthis, according to four Iranian sources and a diplomat familiar with the matter.

As per Iranian sources, discussions on the attacks and trade between China and Iran occurred at recent meetings in Beijing and Tehran. They declined to disclose specific details such as the timing or attendees of these meetings.

An Iranian official, briefed on the talks and speaking anonymously to Reuters, stated, “Basically, China says: ‘If our interests are harmed in any way, it will impact our business with Tehran. So tell the Houthis to show restraint.'”

China presses Iran to rein in Houthi attacks in Red Sea, sources say | The  Straits Times

The attacks by the Houthis, purportedly in support of Palestinians in Gaza, have disrupted a vital trade route between Asia and Europe, impacting shipping costs and insurance. This route is widely used by Chinese ships.

While Chinese officials did not make explicit threats regarding the potential consequences for Beijing’s trading relationship with Iran if Houthi attacks jeopardized its interests, Iranian sources revealed that China had not made specific comments in this regard.

Despite China being Iran’s primary trading partner for the past decade, their trade relationship is imbalanced. Last year, Chinese oil refiners bought over 90% of Iran’s crude exports due to US sanctions, which dissuaded other customers. However, Iranian oil only constitutes 10% of China’s crude imports, and China has alternative suppliers to fill any gaps.

The sources reported that Beijing emphasized its disappointment with Tehran if any vessels linked to China were targeted or if China’s interests were affected. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to inquiries about the meetings by stating, “China is a sincere friend of the countries of the Middle East and is committed to promoting regional security and stability and seeking common development and prosperity.”

It added, “We firmly support Middle Eastern countries in strengthening their strategic independence and uniting and collaborating to resolve regional security issues.” Iran’s foreign ministry was not immediately available for comment.

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