Bei­jing can’t let US play games with Ira­nian en­ergy

Global Times US Edition - - BIZCOMMENT - By Hu Wei­jia

As Washington and Tehran edge to­ward a flash­point on Mon­day when new sanc­tions are sched­uled to take ef­fect, will the US use the sanc­tions as a way to pres­sure China to in­crease its en­ergy imports from the US, and will the Us-china trade war be a fac­tor that de­ter­mines US strat­egy on Iran?

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said over the week­end that he would im­pose new sanc­tions on Iran, sev­eral days be­fore the G20 sum­mit in Ja­pan at which Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping is likely to meet Trump. The US may try to max­i­mize its in­ter­ests by ty­ing its Iran and China strate­gies to­gether.

In Au­gust 2018, China an­nounced re­tal­ia­tory tar­iffs on 5,207 US prod­ucts in­clud­ing liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas (LNG). Due to trade war fears, some Chi­nese en­ter­prises re­duced en­ergy imports from the US while show­ing more in­ter­est in Mid­dle East en­ergy ex­porters. Ac­cord­ing to data from the Gas Ex­port­ing Coun­tries Fo­rum, an in­ter­na­tional gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion, Iran ranks first in the world in terms of nat­u­ral gas re­serves and third in terms of oil re­serves. Sanc­tions on Ira­nian en­ergy will cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for US en­ergy ex­ports.

Trump over the past few years touted his “Amer­ica First en­ergy pol­icy” with an ef­fort to boost LNG ex­ports. A clean en­ergy rev­o­lu­tion is tak­ing place across the US, which is seek­ing buy­ers for its sur­plus en­ergy.

If the US suc­ceeds in driv­ing Ira­nian oil ex­ports to zero, or the en­ergy trans­mis­sion net­works in the Mid­dle East suf­fer a blow from a pos­si­ble war be­tween the US and Iran, China may have to re­duce its de­pen­dence on en­ergy ex­ports from the Mid­dle East, es­pe­cially Iran, and re­con­sider buy­ing US en­ergy prod­ucts. That is per­haps ex­actly what the US wants to see.

Even if China’s en­ergy imports from Iran are cut off, China will be very cau­tious about turn­ing to US sources. The on­go­ing trade war has made it in­creas­ingly ur­gent for China to cut the links be­tween its en­ergy sec­tor and those in the US. China must re­duce its de­pen­dence on US en­ergy to safe­guard its en­ergy se­cu­rity, which is al­ways a mat­ter of na­tional se­cu­rity.

A war be­tween the US and Iran will be a catas­tro­phe for the global econ­omy. China firmly op­poses war and hopes that all par­ties con­cerned re­spect Iran’s rea­son­able re­quests. China is will­ing to work with Rus­sia, In­dia, Euro­pean coun­tries and re­lated par­ties to find a peace­ful so­lu­tion. At the least, China has rea­son to pre­vent the US from gain­ing ben­e­fits from a pos­si­ble war and eco­nomic sanc­tions against Iran. The au­thor is a re­porter with the Global Times. bi­zopin­[email protected] glob­al­times.com.cn

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