China once again defended its trade ties with Iran, saying that Beijing’s business and energy ties with Tehran do not harm the interests of any other country.
In a statement released late on Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry reiterated its opposition to unilateral sanctions and “long-armed jurisdiction” after US President Donald Trump said companies doing business with Iran would be barred from the United States.
China has already defended its commercial relations with Iran as open and transparent as US sanctions on Iran took effect despite pleas from Washington’s allies, Reuters reported.
“For a long time, China and Iran have had open, transparent and normal commercial cooperation in the fields of business, trade and energy, which is reasonable, fair and lawful,” it said.
“This does not violate United Nations Security Council resolutions or China’s promised international obligations, nor does it harm the interests of any other country, and should be respected and protected,” the ministry added.
Using sanctions at the slightest pretext or to threaten anyone won’t resolve the problem, it said.
“Only dialogue and negotiations are the true path to resolving the issue,” the ministry added.
China, Iran’s top oil customer, buys roughly 650,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Tehran, or 7 percent of China’s total crude oil imports. At current market rates, the imports are worth some $15 billion a year.
State energy firms CNPC and Sinopec have invested billions of dollars in key Iranian oil fields such as Yadavaran and North Azadegan and have been sending oil to China.
Several global powers have also decried Trump's administration for reinstating economic sanctions against Iran, while actively calling on businesses to ignore the White House over the coming months.
Despite pleas from world’s powers, the US reimposed sanctions targeting the Iranian government's purchase of US dollars on Tuesday. The measures also impact Tehran's trade in gold and other precious metals, as well as its automotive industry.
In a tweet posted earlier this week, Trump said: "These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level. Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!"
The second batch of potentially more damaging sanctions will target Iran's port operators, as well as its energy, shipping and shipbuilding industries. Petroleum-related transactions and dealings between foreign financial organizations and the Central Bank of Iran will also be impacted.
The re-imposition of strict economic sanctions against Tehran followed Trump's decision earlier in the year to pull out of the 2015 landmark deal to lift nuclear-related sanctions in return for limits on Iran's nuclear activities.
Co-sponsors of the nuclear deal include some of Washington's closest allies, with Britain, France and Germany – as well as Russia and China – all signatories to the agreement.
Yet, in defiance of Trump's warning, the European Union responded to the Iran sanctions on Tuesday by calling on companies to disregard threats from Washington.
"If there is one piece of international agreements on nuclear non-proliferation that is delivering, it has to be maintained. We are encouraging small and medium enterprises, in particular, to increase business with and in Iran as part of something (that) for us is a security priority," Federica Mogherini, the EU's foreign policy chief, said Tuesday.
In Asia, China condemned the measures reinstated against Tehran earlier this week and — in accordance with Europe — urged oil and gas firms to reject calls for them to completely cut-off from Iranian crude.
The Russian Foreign Ministry website published a statement Tuesday stating that Moscow is "deeply disappointed by US steps to reimpose its national sanctions against Iran," before adding, "We will do everything necessary in the interests of preserving and fully implementing the SVPD (Iran nuclear deal)."
In a translation provided by different media reports, the ministry added that it was "taking appropriate measures on a national level to protect trade and economic cooperation with Iran," and that Russia would continue to work with other parties to the agreement to preserve trade with the Middle East nation.
Reuters and CNBC contributed to this story.