[April 30, 2014]BEIJING (Reuters) — China said on
Wednesday it "resolutely opposes" U.S. sanctions that could harm
non-proliferation work between the two countries after Washington laid
charges against a Chinese businessman accused of allegedly procuring
missile parts for Iran.
In a signal Washington would keep pressure on Iran over its
nuclear program, the U.S. State Department also offered up to $5
million for information leading to businessman Li Fangwei's arrest
Federal prosecutors also seized $6.9 million in funds that had been
traced to Li.
"China resolutely opposes the United States citing domestic law to
unilaterally impose sanctions on Chinese companies or individuals.
We believe that what the United States has done will not help
resolve the issue and will harm bilateral cooperation on counter
proliferation, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said.
China pays great attention to anti-proliferation export controls and
will "seriously deal" with any violations of its laws, Qin told
reporters at a regular press briefing.
"China urges the United States to stop these wrong acts of putting
sanctions on Chinese companies and individuals and return to the
correct path of anti-proliferation cooperation," Qin said.
Li has been the target of U.S. sanctions in the past for his alleged
role as a supplier to Iran's ballistic missile program.
In 2009, he was charged with selling restricted materials to Iran by
the Manhattan District Attorney and Treasury banned him and his
company, LIMMT, from conducting business in the United States
without a license or authorization.
The latest actions further limit Li's ability to conduct business
Contacted by Reuters on Feb 4, 2013, for an earlier story about his
business, Li said he continued to get commercial inquiries from Iran
but only for legitimate merchandise. Li said his metals company,
LIMMT, had stopped selling to Iran once the United States began
sanctioning the firm several years ago.
Calls to multiple telephone numbers of LIMMT, based in the
northeastern Chinese city of Dalian, either went unanswered, or the
person answering hung up when asked for Li.
Described as a "known proliferator" and a "principal supplier" to
Iran's ballistic missile program, Li has also been accused of trying
to buy materials from the United States, China and other countries
that could be used by Iran to produce or deliver weapons of mass
Iran and a group of world powers reached a temporary agreement in
November under which Tehran would get about $7 billion in sanctions
relief in return for steps to restrain its nuclear activities.
In March, a U.S. official said Iran had pursued buying banned
components for its nuclear and missile programs, even while it was
striking the interim deal to limit its disputed nuclear program.
Vann Van Diepen, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for
international security and non-proliferation, said Li had continued
to supply such items despite U.S. pressure on China to tighten
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)