Will China join the U.S. led ‘coalition’ to escort ships through the Strait of Hormuz?
It sounds unlikely but this Reuters piece claims that China is thinking about it:
China might escort Chinese commercial vessels in Gulf waters under a U.S. proposal for a maritime coalition to secure oil shipping lanes following attacks on tankers, its envoy to the United Arab Emirates said on Tuesday.“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.
President Donald Trump said in a June 24 tweet that China, Japan and other countries “should be protecting their own ships” in the Gulf region, where the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain.
It was not clear if Washington had made an official request to Beijing, which has had to tread softly in the Middle East due to its close energy ties with both Iran and Saudi Arabia.
So far it is only Britain which will go with the U.S. plans. France, Germany and other ‘allies’ rejected U.S. request to join the mission.
Reuters seems to misunderstand what the Chinese ambassador really said.
The message is in two parts: “we will consider having our navy escort our commercial vessels” and “We are studying the U.S. proposal on Gulf escort arrangements.” The Chinese embassy made no connection between the two statements.
It is not in China’s interest to join the anti-Iran ‘coalition’ the U.S. wants to build. But it is in China’s interest to protect its commercial ships. But it is not Iran that might endanger them. It is also in China’s interest to study the plans the U.S. has. If only to counter them when necessary.
China continues to buy Iranian oil. The New York Times just made big, hostile weekend splash about it:
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