Expert: China's Participation in US-Led Coalition Inconceivable

The expectation by some Americans that China would join the US-led military coalition in the Persian Gulf to mitigate tensions rising from its trade war with the United States is "obviously wishful thinking", according to a Chinese analyst. 
"Iran is a comprehensive strategic partner of China … Such a coalition would only damage Iran's interests and thus China's," Mu Lu wrote in a recent opinion piece published by the Global Times. 
Washington is lobbying other countries to join a maritime security coalition in the Persian Gulf after it blamed Iran for explosive blasts on tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, a charge Tehran denies. 
The US is pursuing the agenda amid tensions with Iran, which began to escalate after US President Donald Trump quit the 2015 nuclear deal and restored sanctions on Tehran. 
Trump's so-called maximum pressure campaign is aimed at forcing Tehran into new negotiations and further concessions on its defense program. Iran has refused to enter talks unless the pressure is lifted completely.  
China, which has itself been engaged in a trade war with the US since 2018, has refused to join the campaign and remains committed to the deal. 
Washington, according to the expert, has provided no convincing evidence for its tanker attack accusations and the coalition is also part of its strategy to comprehensively crack down on Iran.
"So the truth of such a coalition is Washington lobbying other countries to help it pressure Tehran … The US aims to use … a maritime security coalition to make Iran yield."



Flimsy Coalition 

So far, only Britain has officially said it would join the mission to protect merchant ships after Iran seized a British-flagged vessel for violating maritime regulations.
Britain had earlier seized an Iranian ship in its overseas territory of Gibraltar on suspicion of breaching the European Union's sanctions on Syria.
Israel, Iran's arch foe and a close US-ally, is also participating in the coalition, according to unconfirmed media reports.
China's Embassy in the UAE had said in a text message last week that Beijing is studying the US proposal on Persian Gulf escort arrangements. 
"If there happens to be a very unsafe situation, we will consider having our navy escort our commercial vessels," Ambassador Ni Jian told Reuters in Abu Dhabi.
He added, however, that China's position is that "all disputes should be sorted by peaceful means and by political discussions, not ... military actions".
The analyst said the shipping lanes are currently not threatened but they would be if escorts lead to real military conflicts. 
"There should be a maritime coalition, but definitely not one led by the US or one meant to serve US strategies. The coalition should actually safeguard the interests of [Persian] Gulf countries and their legitimate trading partners," the opinion piece read. 
It added that "Washington's arrogance and reckless moves" have led to turmoil in the Persian Gulf and uncertainties will linger in the region as long as Washington does not change its mind. 

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