BEIJING – China is considering escorting its commercial vessels in the Persian Gulf as part of a US-proposed naval coalition to ensure the safe passage of tankers through the region.
China’s Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Ni Jian, told Reuters that “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.
“We are studying the U.S. proposal on Gulf escort arrangements,” China’s embassy later said in a text message.
The US has begun to exert pressure on other nations to join a maritime security coalition following tensions with Iran in the Strait of Hormuz.
So far, the United Kingdom has announced its participation in the US proposed mission to the Persian Gulf, while France and Germany have ruled out the possibility of participation in the US strategy.
Experts consider that it is possible for China to send ships to the Persian Gulf. However, they think the move is unlikely, as China has close economic ties with Iran and other countries in the region.
Konstantin Kosachev, director of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Federation Council of Russia, does not rule out the possibility that Chinese warships will actually begin to circulate in the Persian Gulf, as the Asian country is sovereign and “has interests and the ability to exercise its naval power in various parts of the world.” But the politician has doubts that China will do this alongside the US.
“I would be very surprised if China joined the US coalition. The idea of its [coalition] creation is very doubtful. If I’m not mistaken, there has been confusion in this regard even among US allies. It is extremely unlikely that the Chinese engage in this kind of interaction with the US, a political rival or even an adversary,” Kosachev told the Vzglyad newspaper.
For Russian Academy of Sciences Far East Institute researcher Vasily Kashin, the US position on Iran is contrary to Chinese interests.
“The way Americans behave towards Iran affects China’s economic interests. After all, Beijing has a significant amount of trade with Iran, a large amount of investment in that country. China is one of the Middle East’s main economic partners, a source of their investments. China has been investing more money here than anyone,” Kashin said.