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Why China is unlikely to back Iran sanctions

Beijing is against sanctions as a matter of principle – and because of recent multi-billion dollar energy deals with Iran.

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China is showing no appetite for the tougher sanctions that Western leaders have been threatening against Iran over its nuclear program, and would likely veto any United Nations effort to impose a stiffer embargo even if Thursday's talks between US Security Council members and Iran go badly.

"We support the ... proper solution to the Iranian nuclear issue through negotiation," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu insisted Tuesday, following her statement last week that "China always believes that sanctions and pressure should not be an option."

"China won't go along" predicts Willem van Kemenade, a fellow at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations and author of a forthcoming book on Chinese-Iranian ties. "It's a matter of both energy inter-dependence and of principle for Beijing."

"There are still diplomatic ways to resolve this question" adds Tao Wenjiao, a foreign affairs expert at the government-run Chinese Academy for Social Sciences. "We still have time to take non-sanctions ways to solve it."

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