China Warns: US About To Open "Pandora's Box" In Middle East

Just after the Pentagon announced late Monday it is sending 1,000 additional US troops to the Middle East in response to soaring tensions with Iran over last week's tanker attack incident, China has urged the world to stand down from opening "Pandora's Box" in the Middle East

A top Beijing official, Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi, specifically called on the United States to cease its “extreme pressure” campaign against Iran. Notably, this came after he met Syria’s foreign minister in the Chinese capital. 

“We call on all sides to remain rational and exercise restraint, and not take any escalatory actions that irritate regional tensions, and not open a Pandora’s box,” Wang said. “In particular, the U.S. side should alter its extreme pressure methods,” Wang said.

Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at Diaoyutai state guesthouse in Beijing, China May 13, 2018. Image source: Reuters

“Any unilateral behavior has no basis in international law. Not only will it not resolve the problem, it will only create an even greater crisis,” the Chinese State Councillor said.

Wang voiced Beijing's fear that a coming clash in the Persian Gulf would set the whole region on fire, a sentiment also recently echoed by Russian officials, and advanced the nuclear deal as the only legitimate and feasible path forward. 

“We understand that relevant parties may have different concerns but first of all the comprehensive nuclear deal should be properly implemented,” he continued. “We hope that Iran is cautious with its decision-making and not lightly abandon this agreement.”

Wang called on Iran to exercise prudence amid the growing crisis, while also noting Tehran has "legitimate lawful rights and interests," according to Reuters.

Crucially, China and Iran maintain close energy ties, and China has been a key power helping Tehran to attempt to circumvent US sanctions by importing Iranian oil, and ignoring Washington's pressure on international players to abide by its ban. 

The foreign ministers of both countries have met frequently within the past years since the P5+1 nuclear deal, of which China is a signatory, including already twice in 2019.