By Wang Wenwen (Global Times, 4 February 2019) – When challenged by even the closest friends, one needs to think what one has done wrong.
France, Germany and Britain, once intimate allies of the US, have set up a payment system to allow European businesses to bypass US sanctions and trade with Iran.
The move is seen as not only continued opposition to last year’s decision by US President Donald Trump to abandon a 2015 deal under which international sanctions on Iran were lifted, but also Europe’s exercise of economic sovereignty in the face of Washington’s imposition of its foreign policy on other countries.
Chinese companies are also victims of US sanctions, and China welcomes such a mechanism. All too often, US economic sanctions are used to promote the full range of Washington’s strategic objectives and become a policy tool of choice for the US in the post-Cold War world.
The strength of US sanctions is rooted in the power and reach of the US economy. The US dollar is used for the international oil and gas trade and a wide part of global trade. This gives the US an exorbitant privilege to sanction countries it opposes.
The US now maintains economic sanctions against dozens of countries including Cuba, Myanmar, Iran, North Korea and Venezuela. US sanctions are imposed when Washington thinks its interests are undermined by those regimes.
The latest sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil company aim to cut off source of foreign currency of Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro’s government and eventually force him to step down. Obviously the US is using sanctions on Venezuela to push forward political transition in Latin American countries.
The world is still dominated by the US dollar and corporations. So its financial and economic measures can force other states to adjust their policies accordingly so as to fund the superpower to buttress its geopolitical hegemony. In turn, the US will abuse such hegemony to bolster its dollar supremacy. This, however, will exacerbate tensions and override the liberal international order as the US is forcefully reshaping the order to make it serve its own interests.
A new mechanism should be devised to thwart such a vicious circle. With the US-EU division now deepening, even the US’ European allies can see the downside of the US manipulation of the world order and have realized the need to help their businesses develop for the sake of their own interests.
Being a major stakeholder in the world order, China opposes unilateral sanctions. China should join hands with more countries to negotiate and explore a system fit for the dynamics of a multipolar world.