Beijing: Ahead of the arrival of
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in China on Wednesday, Beijing defended
its decision to back the UN resolution slapping sanctions
against Iran as Tehran hit back, describing the move as
China rejected Tehran`s assertion that the decision to
back the UN resolution imposing sanctions would affect
Beijing`s standing in the Islamic world.
"China highly values relations with Iran and feels
they are conducive to regional peace, stability and
development," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told
a media briefing here.
"We believe on the basis of unity, mutual trust and
cooperation, relations between China and Muslim countries will
withstand all tests and move forward," he said, reacting to
assertions by Iran`s nuclear chief negotiator Ali-Akbar Salehi
that Beijing’s move would affect its ties with the Islamic
Salehi accused Beijing of "double standards" by
adopting a different position towards its communist ally North
Korea, which has abandoned the Non-Proliferation Treaty while
Iran remains an adherent.
"China supports North Korea which is not even
signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) but adopts a
resolution against Iran which is both NPT signatory and all
its nuclear projects under the surveillance of the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), he said.
"There was a time when China branded the US as a paper
tiger. I wonder what we can call China for agreeing to this
resolution," Salehi was quoted as saying by ISNA news agency
in a rare criticism of China, which had backed Iran until
recently by blocking US efforts to slap sanctions.
He said China is "gradually losing its respectable
position in the Islamic world and by the time it wakes up, it
will be too late".
The Chinese spokesman, however, denied the "double
standards" allegation saying that "I can tell you China always
adhered to independent policy of peace and did not follow
Qin also said Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who was
due in Shanghai today, would take part in the Iranian national
day celebrations being organised at the Iranian Pavilion at
Shanghai expo. He hinted that Iranian leader would not be
visiting Beijing for talks with top Chinese leaders.
But the unusually strong criticism of Beijing by
Iran`s atomic chief could cast a shadow over the trip,
according to analysts.