US Efforts to Persuade China in Pushing Iran for Houthis’ Pressure

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has urged Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to use Beijing’s influence on Iran to prevent the Houthis in Yemen from attacking Red Sea trade routes. The appeal came during two days of meetings in Bangkok between the two.

The meeting also covered topics such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Myanmar’s civil war, North Korea, Israel’s Hamas war, the South China Sea, fentanyl, and artificial intelligence. This was their first meeting since October 26, when Wang visited Washington in the run-up to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. The meeting aimed to build on the commitments made during that summit, including reinstating military-to-military talks and addressing fentanyl exports.

A counternarcotics working group is set to be established on Tuesday, and Military-Maritime Consultative Agreement Meetings and talks on regulating artificial intelligence will be held in the Spring. The two sides are committed to continuing strategic communication channels, with a potential telephone call between the two leaders in the coming months. The Middle East conflict began with Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7.

The US has pressed Wang to use Beijing’s influence on Iran to push it to end Houthis attacks on trade ships transiting the Red Sea. The Houthis’ latest attack targeted a US warship, the USS Carney, which was patrolling the area to prevent further attacks. Both Hamas and the Houthis are labeled “proxies” of Iran by the US, with Tehran accused of funding and training both groups. China, as a major trading nation, has its own interests in stopping attacks on the Red Sea route and pressure Iran as one of the biggest buyers of its oil.

The US and China have discussed the economic and trade relationship, which gives Beijing leverage over Iran. Iran’s influence over the Houthis and its destabilization of global shipping raises concerns for both the US and China, as well as global trade.

The US is also interested in China’s assistance in bringing North Korea to denuclearize its nuclear weapons program or its recent provision of ballistic missiles to Russia. However, the US is less hopeful about China’s assistance in pushing North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program or its recent provision of ballistic missiles to Russia. The US still hopes China will help bring the country back to denuclearization.

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