China’s foreign ministry has appealed to the United States to “immediately lift unilateral” sanctions against the Islamic Republic, to fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
In a tweet by the foreign ministry’s spokesman on March 16, China said, “Continued sanction is against humanitarianism and hampers Iran’s epidemic response & delivery of humanitarian aid by the UN and other organizations”.
Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and the speaker of parliament have repeatedly raised the issue of U.S. sanctions in recent days, arguing that the fight against the virus is a global effort.
The United Nations recently voiced support for Iran in its fight against the epidemic and called on member states to assist the country.
U.S. President Donald Trump has offered several times to assist Iran against the disease. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other officials have insisted that U.S. sanctions do not prohibit humanitarian aid or trade. Washington has set up a channel with Switzerland to allow medicines and medical supplies to be exported to Iran.
The State Department has also offered American assistance through official Swiss diplomatic channels.
Iranian officials have turned down the offer, calling it a "political-psychological game" and even accused the United States of having launched a "bio-terror attack" against Iran which caused the coronavirus outbreak.
Germany, France, Britain, China, Japan and Azerbaijan, as well as the World Health Organization have sent assistance to Iran to fight the coronavirus outbreak.