Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday that the US Treasury had committed an illegal act by banning Shanghai Saint Logistics Limited, a company which Washington has accused of acting on behalf of Iran’s Mahan Air.
“It is legitimate and legal for parties in the international community to engage in mutually beneficial cooperation with Iran that is in accordance with international law,” said Lijian at a regular media briefing.
The United States has blacklisted Mahan Air, Iran’s largest airline by the number of planes and seats, accusing the carrier of close cooperation with Iran’s elite military force the IRGC which is also under US sanctions.
Washington has done its utmost to pressure other countries to ban Mahan Air and even to deny it overflight rights. The policy has backfired except for several cases as governments around the world have boosted their cooperation with the Iranian airline.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a Wednesday statement that sanctions imposed on Shanghai Saint Logistics Limited, which freezes assets of the company in the US and bars Americans from doing business with it, would force other companies to cease providing services to Mahan Air.
However, Chinese spokesman Lijian said Beijing expects the US administration to “correct its mistake” and to lift the bans from the Chinese company.
New US sanctions related to Mahan Air comes against the backdrop of reports suggesting that US authorities are extremely frustrated that they have failed to stop recent flights by the airline to Venezuela, a country also slapped with US sanctions which is seeking assistance from Iran to rebuild its energy sector.