China on Wednesday reacted sharply to the United States move to exclude it along with India from the list of countries exempted from sanctions for importing crude oil from Iran, saying it is opposed to any unilateral action without United Nations authorisation.
"China always opposed to one country imposing unilateral sanctions against another based on domestic laws and will not accept such sanctions to be imposed on to a third country," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong Lei told media in Beijing.
He was reacting to the US move to exempt Japan and 10 EU countries from financial sanctions for importing oil from Iran on the ground that they have significantly cut purchases of oil from Tehran.
The list however excludes China and India who are the biggest importers of Iranian oil. Hong said China which is a major developing country bought crude oil from Iran through normal channels "which is understandable, reasonable and justifiable."
"It is not violation of any UN resolution or impairs the interests of any third party or international community," he said.
The US move came amid reports that China has cut down imports from Iran by more than half in the first quarter of 2012 putting pressure on Tehran to give better rates for its imports in view of threats of sanctions.
According to some reports the cuts would amount to 14 per cent of last year's imports. However, it was apparently not good enough for US to take them into consideration.
Hong, however, cautiously reacted to the US move to impose lighter than expected tariffs on solar panel imports from China.
The US Department of Commerce announced on Tuesday that a preliminary investigation found that Chinese solar panel makers have received government subsidies of 2.9 per cent to 4.73 per cent and decided to levy the same amount of tariffs on Chinese imports.
The move was virtually welcomed by Chinese manufacturers as earlier reports said US plans to impose 30 per cent duty on solar panel imports from China.
Hong said the trade volumes between the two countries are so high that it is natural for both sides to have disputes.
But the disputes should be resolved through friendly consultations.
"We should not allow such frictions the difference to impair sound and steady development economic relations," he said.