tirsdag 7. januar 2020

China doesn't want war, but Trump's strike against Iran could present an opportunity to Beijing

Located thousands of feet up in the Central Asian mountains, Bishkek is not usually considered a place where international policy is made. Last June, however, world leaders flocked to the capital of Kyrgyzstan for a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a key regional security and political alliance. Attendees included Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, as well as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, with whom they posed alongside in photos from the event.

It was a pertinent reminder of Tehran's strong ties with two of the world's foremost powers, further underlined when the three countries held joint naval exercises near the strategically vital Strait of Hormuz in the Indian Ocean last month.

In the wake of the US strike that killed Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad last week, Iran's leaders will likely be looking to those alliances to counterbalance American aggression, even as Tehran considers possible retaliation for the death of one of its most popular military figures. China in particular could play a key role in containing the fallout and preventing another Middle Eastern conflict. In a call with his Iranian counterpart Saturday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi condemned the "military adventurist act by the US" which "goes against basic norms governing international relations and will aggravate tensions and turbulence in the region." A statement added that Tehran hoped China could "play an important role in preventing escalation of regional tensions."