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China calls on Iran to restrain Houthis from attacking ships in Red Sea

China calls on Iran to restrain Houthis from attacking ships in Red Sea Photo: China pressures Iran to restrain Houthis from attacks in the Red Sea (GettyImages)

Chinese officials have asked their Iranian counterparts for assistance in restraining attacks on ships in the Red Sea carried out by Tehran-backed Houthi rebels, according to Reuters.

According to Iranian sources, the discussions about Houthi attacks and trade between China and Iran took place during several recent meetings in Beijing and Tehran.

"Basically, China says: 'If our interests are harmed in any way, it will impact our business with Tehran. So tell the Houthis to show restraint,'" an unnamed Iranian official told Reuters.

However, Chinese officials have not made any specific comments or threats regarding potential damage to their trade relations with Iran. Although China has been Iran's largest trading partner over the past decade, their trade relations are somewhat one-sided.

According to tanker tracking data from the trade analytics company Kpler, Chinese refineries purchased over 90% of the crude oil exported from Iran last year.

It is claimed that Beijing has made it clear that it would be very disappointed with Tehran if any vessels associated with China were harmed, or if any damage was inflicted on the country's interests.

What preceded

Since November 2023, Yemeni Houthi rebels have been regularly attacking commercial ships in the Aden Strait and the Red Sea using drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic rockets. The initial attacks coincided with the onset of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas.

In response to numerous attacks, on January 12, the United States and Britain launched missile strikes on Houthi military targets in Yemen. However, despite the Western strikes, the militants continued their attacks on merchant vessels.

On January 25, the United States urged China to persuade Iran to influence the Houthis to cease their attacks.