China's foreign minister accuses US of 'bullying practices' during meeting with Iran counterpart

China's foreign minister accuses US of 'bullying practices' during meeting with Iran counterpart
In a meeting with Iran's foreign minister Mohamad Zarif in Beijing, Wan Yi slammed international "bullying practices", in an indirect attack on U.S. policy towards both Iran and China.
2 min read
31 December, 2019
Mohammad Zarif said the two countries were "united" in the fight against American unilateralism [Getty]

In a meeting with his Iranian counterpart on Tuesday, Wang Yi, China's foreign minister, denounced international "bullying practices", in the latest Chinese criticism of US foreign policy under President Donald Trump.

In the opening remarks to bilateral talks with Iran Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, Wang reaffirmed the strength of the relations between the two countries.

Iran's foreign minister was in China following a visit to close-ally Russia.

His sojourn also comes on the back of a four-day joint Iranian, Russian and Chinese naval exercise in the Indian Ocean, the first of its kind, as the three powers seek an ever-closer military union.

Read more: Iran, Russia and China begin four-day joint naval exercise

"We need to stand together against unilateralism and bullying practices," Wang said, alluding to the US withdrawal from 2015 nuclear deal.

China remains a signatory of the nuclear agreement, and subsequent pursuit of harsh diplomatic and economic pressures. 

While he did not mention the US directly, Wang asserted the nations were resolute in defending their national interests and upholding "multilateralism and norms governing international relations".

The sentiments were echoed by Zarif in his address, who said that the two countries were united in their "common effort to fight unilateralism".

The 2015 deal signed by Iran, the UK, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US eased sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits on its nuclear programme.

Yet three years later the US withdrew and imposed crippling economic sanctions on Iran, including a ban on the selling crude oil abroad.

In response, Tehran has now begun relieving itself from the burden of complying with the deal's many terms, launching new operations at a heavy water nuclear reactor, among other contraventions. 

Russia and China have directed blame at the U.S. as the rest of the international community hold Iran responsible for escalating tensions in the region.

In the midst of a trade war with the US and mounting criticism of its human record and policies in the traditionally Muslim northwestern region of Xinjiang, China has beefed up its rhetoric against Washington.

Geng Shuang, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, accused Washington of shirking "its due international obligations" and said that China would do its utmost to maintain the 2015 agreement.

"This is the root cause of the current tension in the Iranian nuclear issue," Geng said.

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