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23 Jul, 2019 00:46

US sanctions Chinese company, big buyer of Iranian oil 

US sanctions Chinese company, big buyer of Iranian oil 

The US has imposed sanctions against a Chinese company that is the biggest buyer of Iranian oil in the world, amid an escalating trade war between Washington and Beijing and US threats against Tehran.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Monday that Washington will be imposing punitive measures against Zhuhai Zhenrong Ltd.  Along with China’s major oil refining company, Sinopec Corp, Zhuhai it is the largest buyer of Iranian oil in the world. Its chief executive, Youmin Li, was also placed on the US blacklist.

“They violated US law by accepting crude oil," Pompeo said in a speech. “We can't tolerate more money going to ayatollahs, putting American soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, putting their lives at risk.”

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This is the first time the US has sanctioned a Chinese company in relation to its campaign of “maximum pressure” against Iran. The Chinese embassy in Washington condemned Pompeo’s remarks.

“China firmly opposes the US imposition of unilateral sanctions and so-called ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ on China and other countries, invoking its domestic law,” a spokesperson said to Reuters.

China received about 12 million tons of Iranian crude between January and May this year, when US sanctions waivers that allowed some trade with Tehran expired, according to a Bloomberg report.

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Since the US pulled out of the nuclear treaty, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), tensions have mounted between Washington and China, Russia, and even traditional European allies, as the US sought to pressure them into complying with the re-imposition of sanctions. 

Meanwhile, the US has imposed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods as part of President Donald Trump’s push for “fair” trade relations. Beijing has retaliated with tariffs on US goods, and neither side appears willing to budge so far, although it appears the US is getting the better of the exchange.

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