On June 1, sometime between the US withdrawal from the JCPOA in early May, and its demand in late June that Asian buyers fully halt Iranian oil purchases, PetroChina snuck in a shipment of Iranian crude through Myanmar to its Yunnan Petrochemical refinery in southern China. On any other route, this would have been just another Iranian oil shipment. But using the Myanmar-China oil and gas pipeline brings new complications. That’s because the pipeline has a new avatar — it is now a part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, along with other large infrastructure projects that were not originally a part of BRI, but were included later to boost the profile of the program. Sending Iranian crude through an oil pipeline with the “Belt and Road” label removes any doubts of whether BRI’s projects have political motives or not. For critics of BRI, it adds fodder to the narrative that the infrastructure plan is a tool for China to undercut the influence of the US. BRI already has a serious public relations problem and is viewed with suspicion, sometimes for good reason. Earlier this week, the renewal of US secondary sanctions on Iran faced strong opposition from the remaining… continue reading
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Source: CTRM Center