China Leadership Monitor

Beijing’s Tightrope Walk on Iran

Monday, June 28, 2010

In dealing with the Islamic Republic of Iran, as with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Beijing confronts yet another exquisite dilemma. As with North Korea, the Chinese leadership must walk a diplomatic and political tightrope in its policies toward Tehran, in this instance seeking to maintain increasingly lucrative economic and strategically useful political ties to a major power and friend in a critical region of the world. At the same time, it must support international efforts to sustain the global nonproliferation regime, prevent the further destabilization of a highly volatile and critical region, and avoid antagonizing Washington and other key powers. This essay first examines China’s interests and policies toward Iran, especially as they affect the United States. It then takes a close look at the lines of apparent debate within China on the Iran nuclear issue and Chinese policy.