Why Iran’s Fuel Tankers for Venezuela Are Sending Shudders Through Washington

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      Even two decades ago, China resisted any direct confrontation with the United States. In 1999, U.S. bombers—under NATO command—struck the Chinese embassy in Belgrade; the United States and NATO said it was an accidental attack, something that they claim to this day (despite evidence that shows it was a deliberate strike). For four days, the Chinese government permitted anti-U.S. protests in China, but then everything went quiet (the United States paid compensation). Nothing more was said.

      No such behavior is present now. If such an incident took place at this time, China would not tolerate it; it would make it an international incident, raise the question in the UN Security Council—where China is a permanent member. China’s more visible diplomacy on behalf of the Palestinians—especially when Trump has pushed the Israeli government to strengthen its annexationist policies against the Palestinians—is a sign of Chinese ambitions to be more vocal in defense of those who have been under the heel of U.S. power.

      Increasingly, China has supported both Iran and Venezuela against the United States. China has deep economic links to Iran, which is at the heart of the Belt and Road Initiative. Xu Bu, China’s ambassador to Chile, has been outspoken in his criticism of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the anti-China rhetoric that the United States has tried to spawn in Latin America. In the Chilean newspaper La Tercera, Xu Bu called Pompeo a “liar”; these are strong words in the world of diplomacy. China, he wrote, has been actively engaged in South America to the mutual advantage of both China and the individual countries; this is the same argument Chinese diplomats use about Iran.

      In both Iran and Venezuela, China has provided assistance to tackle COVID-19; it has sent medical personnel and equipment. There is every indication that China has put its foot down to make it clear to Washington that it stands behind the governments in both these countries.

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

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