China Stands Firm on Disputed Islands Despite Iran’s Outrage – Will Beijing Change Its Stance?

BEIJING, China – Tensions have escalated between China and Iran over the disputed islands in the Gulf, specifically the Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, and Abu Musa. While the islands have been under Iranian control since 1971, both Iran and the United Arab Emirates claim sovereignty over them. Last week, China expressed support for the UAE’s efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the territorial dispute.

In response, Iran expressed anger towards China for its stance on the issue, summoning the Chinese ambassador to Tehran to voice its protest. The Iranian foreign ministry criticized China’s support for what they called the UAE’s “baseless claims.” Despite this, China reiterated its call for Iran and the UAE to engage in dialogue and consultation to resolve their differences, maintaining a consistent stance on the matter.

The relationship between China and Iran is crucial, with the two countries sharing strategic cooperation. China emphasized the importance it places on its partnership with Iran, while also standing by its position on the disputed islands in the Gulf. This recent development follows China’s involvement in a joint statement with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in December 2022, where efforts to address the issue of the islands were emphasized.

The latest statement issued by China with the UAE did not touch upon the Iranian nuclear program, a key point that was included in the previous joint statement with the GCC countries. The ongoing tensions highlight the complexities surrounding territorial disputes in the region and the delicate diplomatic balance that China must maintain.

As China faces backlash from Iran for its stance on the disputed islands, the situation underscores the intricate relationships between key players in the Gulf region. The quest for a peaceful resolution remains a pressing issue as differing claims to the islands continue to strain diplomatic ties. How China navigates these tensions with its trading partners and strategic allies will be vital in shaping the future dynamics of the region.