China, the largest importer of crude oil from Iran, on Tuesday lodged a diplomatic protest with the US opposing Washington's move to impose unilateral sanctions to countries importing Iranian oil.
US President Donald Trump on Monday decided not to grant sanctions exemptions to any oil customers of Iran in a mover to further squeeze Tehran's top export commodity.
According to reports, China last year imported around 29.3 million tons or about 585,400 barrels per day (bpd) from Iran.
"China firmly opposes the unilateral sanctions and so-called 'long-arm jurisdictions' imposed by the US. The normal energy cooperation under the international law between Iran and other members of the international community, China included, is legitimate and lawful; thus it must be respected and protected," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.
"We urge the US to earnestly respect China's interests and concerns, and refrain from taking wrong moves that will undermine our interests. We will continue to uphold the lawful and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese businesses," he said.
The US re-imposed sanctions on Iran last November, after President Trump pulled out of the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
The move, which is seen as an escalation of President Trump administration's "maximum pressure" on Iran, comes after the US last year gave temporary 180-days waiver to eight countries, including India, China, Turkey and Japan among others.
As a result of this decision all countries including India would have to bring down its import of oil from Iran by May 2.
Greece, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have already heavily reduced their oil imports from Iran. The other three are China, India and Turkey, with Ankara vowing to defy the US demands.
Geng said that the US' move will inevitably add more instabilities in the Middle East and the global energy market.
"What the US did will inevitably add more instabilities in the Middle East and the global energy market. We urge the US to act in a responsible manner and play a constructive role instead of doing the opposite," he said, adding China has lodged protests with the US side.
The US, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, three of the world's great energy producers, along with its friends and allies, are committed to ensuring that global oil markets remain adequately supplied.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)