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China slams US ‘bullying’ after new Iran oil sanctions

China has strongly denounced US sanctions on a Chinese company for allegedly violating unilateral American sanctions on Iran’s oil industry.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Tuesday China strongly opposes the hostile measures against energy company Zhuhai Zhenrong Co Ltd.

“We are opposed to the US bullying behavior of wantonly cracking down, suppressing and sanctioning Chinese companies and individuals based on US domestic law. We are firmly opposed to it and strongly condemn it,” she said.

On Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Chinese company had “knowingly engaged in a significant transaction for the purchase or acquisition of crude oil from Iran”.

“We strongly urge the US to immediately rectify its wrong behavior, and stop imposing illegal sanctions against Chinese companies and individuals. China will take all necessary measures to firmly preserve the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and individuals,” Hua said.

Zhuhai Zhenrong is one of China’s largest state-backed oil companies for transporting Iranian crude oil.

The company and its chief executive, Youmin Li, will be barred from engaging in foreign exchange, banking or property transactions under US jurisdiction.

However, Zhuhai Zhenrong which is already under US sanctions for supplying gasoline to Iran in 2012 has little overseas exposure.

Energy traders said the company is also largely disconnected from the Chinese financial system, which would limit the “contagion” of the sanctions to other entities and banking systems.

The sanctions, nevertheless, are likely to inflame tensions between the United States and China which are locked in a trade war.