“This does not violate United Nations Security Council resolutions or China’s promised international obligations, nor does it harm the interests of any other country, and should be respected and protected,” the ministry added.
China noted that using sanctions at the slightest pretext or to threaten anyone won’t resolve the problem.
“Only dialogue and negotiations are the true path to resolving the issue,” the ministry added, referring to recent tensions escalating between Iran and the United States.
China, Iran’s top oil customer, buys roughly 650,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Tehran, or 7% of China’s total crude oil imports. At current market rates, the imports are worth some $15 billion a year.
State energy firms CNPC and Sinopec have invested billions of dollars in key Iranian oilfields such as Yadavaran and North Azadegan, and have been sending oil to China.
European countries, hoping to persuade Tehran to continue to respect the nuclear deal, have promised to lessen the blow of sanctions and urge their firms not to pull out.
But that has proven difficult and some major European companies have quit Iran, arguing that they cannot risk their US business.
Few American companies do much business in Iran so the impact of sanctions mainly stems from Washington’s ability to block European and Asian firms from trading there.