China says US use of force aggravating Middle East tension

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China is "highly concerned" about the stand-off between Iran and the US.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China is "highly concerned" about the stand-off between Iran and the US.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China criticised the United States for aggravating tension in the Middle East through its use of force in the stand-off between Washington and Teheran, and urged all parties to exercise restraint to ensure peace and stability.

"Power politics are neither popular nor sustainable," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily briefing.

"The US' risky military behaviour in recent days goes against the basic norms of international relations.

"We call on the US not to abuse its force, and appeal to relevant parties to exercise restraint to avoid the situation worsening," he said, adding that China is "highly concerned" about the stand-off between Iran and the US.

A US drone strike that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani has further escalated the conflict between the two countries already at odds over Teheran's nuclear activities.

Teheran has publicly vowed to avenge Major-General Soleimani's death, and US President Donald Trump has in turn threatened further retaliation to any Iranian attacks against American assets or citizens.

China also criticised the US for threatening sanctions against Iraq in response to the Iraqi Parliament's resolution calling for US and other foreign troops to leave the country.

"China has consistently opposed the wanton use or threat of use of sanctions," Mr Geng told reporters. "We wish that relevant countries, particularly major countries outside the region, can do more to promote the Middle East region's peace and security, and avoid taking actions that escalate regional tensions."