(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) China might escort its commercial vessels in Gulf waters under a US proposal for a maritime coalition to secure oil shipping lanes following attacks on tankers, its envoy to the UAE said on Tuesday.
"If there happens to be a very unsafe situation we will consider having our navy escort our commercial vessels," Ambassador Ni Jian said in Abu Dhabi. "We are studying the US proposal on Gulf escort arrangements," China's embassy later said in a text message.
Washington is lobbying other nations to join a maritime security coalition at a time of heightened tensions with Iran, which the United States has blamed for explosive blasts on tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, a charge Tehran denies.
US President Donald Trump said in a June 24 tweet that China, Japan and other countries "should be protecting their own ships" in the Gulf region, where the US Navy's Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain. It was not clear if Washington had made an official request to Beijing, which has had to tread softly in the Middle East due to its close energy ties with both Iran and Saudi Arabia.