Threatened Sanctions Against Iran Is Proving To Be Another Wedge Between US And China

AP Iran Oil

Yesterday we ran a guest post from Fawzia Sheikh from arguing that the proposed sanctions against Iran actually constituted a big gift to China that wouldn’t faze Iran in the slightest.

Now Peter Lee at Asia Times has another angle on what’s going on that’s both subtle and fascinating.

Here’s how he explains what’s going on right now at the UN Security Council:

France and the United Kingdom are lined up solidly behind the United States on Iran’s nuclear program, which some say is geared towards making a nuclear bomb, a charge Tehran consistently dismisses.

Russia this year is interested in improving ties with the US and Europe and has moved toward support of sanctions. No Russian veto, no Chinese veto, says the conventional wisdom.

On the other hand, chances of China voting for sanctions are slim.
A press report covering Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi’s visit to Paris at the beginning of February says it all: “China Says Iran Sanctions Hinder Diplomacy.”

Abstention is, therefore, China’s most likely course.

Beijing’s reaction might be expected to be a dismissive and a resigned shrug: a symbolic vote, another toothless round of sanctions, more political kabuki, and eventually business as usual.

However, China’s expected non-vote will be accompanied by new feelings of unease and anger, reflecting Beijing’s growing suspicion that an important motivation for the Iran sanctions, and the escalation of Iran tensions in general, is Washington’s desire to employ the issue as a wedge against China.

Lee also has an interesting contrarian take on the Copenhagen summit, which makes Obama sounds pretty good.

Rather than seeing him as having been undermined by China, it was Obama who brilliantly drove a wedge between China and the developing world by offering financial aid to these countries, who then watched China torpedo the deal. Who looks like a bad guy in that scenario.

As we noted last night, the tension between the Chinese and the US in both the economic and political sphere is clearly growing. Add in the fact that Obama wants the US to be a big exporter, there’s a growing sphere of tension between two countries that obviously rely heavily on each other.

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