Beijing frets about the Iran Lobby

The Financial Times’ indefatigable Goeff Dyer has an excellent story about Israel’s efforts to lobby Beijing to take a tougher line on Iran. Actually, that’s really just the news peg for a story about the myriad ways in which Beijing is becoming enmeshed in Middle East politics:

Beijing… has to weigh up a growing web of other interests in the Middle East which could have some influence on its approach to sanctions.

Indeed, parts of the foreign policy establishment in China are warning that it would be against the government’s interests in the Middle East to get too close to Iran.

China should not “undertake to please Iran and at the same time hurt the feelings of the Arabs and other countries,” said Yin Gang, a Chinese expert on the Middle East in a recent article.

Israel is part of that web of interests. Although China has taken a pro-Palestinian position in international forums and is critical of Israel’s nuclear capability,Beijing has over the years had an unusually close relationship with Israel, which has been a key military supplier.

“The relationship with Israel is an important one,” says Willem van Kemenade, a China analyst who has written a book on Iran’s relations with China….

According to diplomats, Beijing has been quietly lobbied by Saudi Arabia, which has been its biggest supplier of oil for most of the past decade and which has warned of the dangers a nuclear Iran would po… >>>

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