By Serkan Berk Karadeniz
International Strategic Research Organisation (USAK) hosted the ‘International Conference on China in the World Order and the Turkish-Chinese Relationship’ on February 10th and with the occasion of this conference Journal of Turkish Weekly conducted a mini interview with Professor Yang Guang, Director of Institute of West-Asian and African Studies, regarding the Chinese perspective on the oil sanctions against Iran.
Q: European Union and United States decided to impose sanctions on Iranian gas and as is known China is the largest buyer of Iranian gas and oil. So, how do you think Chinese politicians and scholars interpret this decision considering China on one side and EU and the US on the other?
Prof. Guang: I think, many of our researchers believe that there still is opportunity for Iranian nuclear issue to have a peaceful solution and that the means for a peaceful solution are not exhausted yet. Basically the problem is between the U.S and the Iranian government. China has participated in the six-party dialogue and has also talked with the Iranian officials to invite Iranians to show flexibilities to cooperate with the international society by making its nuclear program more transparent, more reliable, and more acceptable for the worldwide. But it seems that it is basically an issue between Iranians and Americans. China’s role is quite limited concerning the embargo. I do not think the embargo can finalize the issue. It may produce some effect as China also voted for the previous embargoes but cannot be an ultimate solution.
The top concern of the Iranian side might be the security of the regime. So if the Americans target only the regime and try to overturn it with all means then there will not be any solution. But if both sides show some flexibility and make the Iranians believe that the security of the regime is not at stake then there would be much larger room for a peaceful solution. So we do not really think that embargo is the best way.
On the other hand, as you said China is a big buyer of the Iranian oil; not only China but also a number of American allies like Japan, India, and South Korea too. So if the EU intensifies the embargo, not only China but also the other allies of the US will suffer. So it is obviously not a wise and perfect solution for the US as well, because it affects the interests of its allies. This also is a reason why countries like Japan, India are quite reluctant to cooperate with the US. So, in my view, embargo may produce some effects but it is not the best solution. Ultimately, the US and the Iranian governments need to sit down again and seek a solution acceptable for both sides. And our ultimate and joint wish or purpose is to prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons. This is the common point we all agree upon. But “how to achieve it?” is the real question to be asked; there are other options beyond embargo and boycott.
Serkan Berk Karadeniz, JTW